Home  >  Carol LeBeau  >  Carol's Health Journal | 21. January 2010

Winter Skin Care

21. January 2011

Winter came with a vengeance to much of the country this season. Bone-chilling cold and snow falling as far south as Florida. For the folks digging out of their driveways and spinning out on the roadways, it is no fun. Been there. Done that.

In fact, growing up in the Midwest, I remember walking to school dressed like the Michelin man to protect against bitter, gale-force winds that literally blew the snow sideways! To get warm, I’d stand right next to the hot, bone-dry air coming from the classroom radiator. I could barely swallow it was so dry. How dry? With my shoes and a piece of carpet, I could literally generate electricity!

But we deal with the “dry” here, too. Whether it’s winter in Waterloo or chilly in Chula Vista… tis the season for dry, itchy skin, chapped lips and split fingernails.

I don’t know about you, but the last high pressure system left me with a seriously painful crack in the side of my thumb. It was so dry, my eyelids feel like potato chips, and the inside of my nose felt like a blast furnace!

We may not deal with drifting snow and temps in the teens, but during a Santa Ana, the humidity can drop into single digits. And that lack of moisture can cause more than chapped lips and itchy skin. Dangerously dry air can adversely affect your health, even aggravating serious skin condition such as eczema and psoriasis.

Thankfully, help is available! Before the next dry spell hits… give these moisture-making tips a try:

  1. Drink up. We all know it’s important to drink plenty of water during the hot summer months. But it’s just as important during the winter. Want to keep your skin from looking like shoe leather? Drink lots of water. Good hydration keeps skin cells healthy and nourished.
  2. Use a safer soap. Most popular soaps are harsh on the skin, stripping the epidermis of oils and moisture. Try something milder like castile soaps.
  3. Moisturize. Choose a product that doesn’t have harsh or questionable chemical ingredients. I like Cetaphil (and the price is right, too!) But if you want to keep it simple, try coconut oil. It’s high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamin E… full of fatty acids that moisturize beautifully. Use it sparingly and rub it in well so you don’t end up feeling greasy.
  4. Take shorter showers and briefer baths. On a chilly day, almost nothing feels better than immersing yourself in steaming hot water. Unfortunately, hot water reduces the skin’s protective oils faster than warm or cold. Keep skin healthy by turning down the temperature and turning up the pace.
  5. Humidify your home. If you’re using your heater or fireplace on these chilly nights, your indoor air is probably pretty dry. Use a humidifier to moisturize the air or place bowls of water near the heat source. The water will naturally evaporate and add moisture to the air
  6. Love your lips (don’t lick ‘em!) Your lips are especially susceptible to winter conditions and licking them only dries them more (leading to chapped, cracked kissers!) Use a good lip balm (especially while you sleep!) and show your lips a little love.
  7. Keep using sunscreen. Even though winter sunshine feels milder, it’s just as important to protect exposed skin in the winter.
  8. Exercise. Another good reason to keep moving! Daily exercise promotes circulation, digestion and elimination, which all helps keep skin healthy.
  9. Know your H20. If you have super-sensitive skin, you may want to test your tap water… which can contain minerals especially drying to the skin.
  10. Zzzzzzz. Need another excuse to get a good night’s sleep? Your skin cells’ ability to repair is best during rest. Sweet dreams!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.