Finally, winter has arrived! And all the lightweight critters have scampered south.
You may have noticed that the first to abandon the area was our old friend Humidity, which under the best of conditions is in short supply at this altitude. Moving in rapidly to take its place is the not-so-welcomed trio of dry skin, chapped lips and cracked and bleeding hands.
Few things are more beautiful than the human skin and few things are more wrapped up in people’s identities. The mass media relentlessly bombards the America public with air brushed models, whose skin is the embodiment of sensuality, youthfulness, vitality and beauty.
The winter reality for many, however, is skin that is taut, dehydrated, red, flaking or scaling with deep fissures that may bleed. It is easy to understand why Americans spend billions of dollars a year on skin care products, often to no avail.
Ordinary dry skin – known as xerosis – though uncomfortable and unsightly usually isn’t a serious health problem. Most dry skin is a result of environmental factors that can be controlled.
Exposure to cold weather with low humidity, central heating that dries out the air in our homes, excessive bathing and the use of strong soaps are all factors contributing to dry skin.
Here are some tips gleaned from various websites to help you through this winter:
- Drink up. Counter dry air by drinking more fluids. Water is the best choice but just about any liquid – except those with alcohol and caffeine – counts towards hydration.
- Shower smart. Short baths or showers with warm not hot water are easier on the skin. Avoid soaps that have lye in them using, instead, only mild super-fatted soaps such as Basis, Neutrogena and Dove.
- Dry yourself damp and then moisturize. It’s much more effective to apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after bathing. Pat yourself dry and then put on your lotion.
- Lube your lips. Use lip balm or petroleum jelly to soothe chapped or sore lips.
- Keep it cool. Excessive heating of your home can reduce the amount of moisture in the air – especially if you use a forced-air heating system. Keep your house temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Breathing hot dry air can irritate your nasal passages and throat, as well as dry out your skin and lips.
- Moisturize your house. Consider using a central humidifier to maintain moisture levels of 40 to 50 percent in your home. Tabletop humidifiers can moisturize the air in a single room but require constant refilling and cleaning to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Although more costly, a central humidifier built in to your forced air system is the way to go.
- Choose fabrics your skin loves. Natural fibers such as cotton and silk are easiest on your skin. And, when you wash your clothes, use detergents without dyes or perfumes both of which can irritate your skin.
Be proactive in 2015 and put an end to your winter weather woes.