Have you ever wondered why your skin feels so dry in wintertime? Because cold air holds less moisture than warm air, the humidity drops both indoors and outdoors during winter. In addition, homes that use forced-air heating (like a furnace) exacerbate the problem by venting hot humid exhaust air outside and bringing in dry cold air as a replacement. When we’re exposed to dry environments, the moisture level of our outer layer of skin (the epidermis) drops as well. This can leave your skin feeling dry, itchy, or flaky. So if your hands feel rougher than sandpaper right now, check out our winter dry skin remedies for help.
Winter Dry Skin Remedies
Use a humidifier.
A humidifier can inject some moisture back into the dry, heated air in your house. You aren’t looking to turn your home into a rainforest, so keep the humidifier set at around 60%. This should be adequate if you’re simply looking to keep your skin from drying out.
Limit your showers and baths.
You might assume that spending time in water will help moisturize your skin. In reality, water strips away the skin’s protective barrier (made of natural oils, proteins, and fats), which causes it to lose moisture. Limit your bathing routine to one bath or shower daily, and try not to spend more than 10 minutes in the water.
Use lukewarm water instead of hot.
When bathing or washing your hands, keep the water set at lukewarm. Although a steamy shower might sound lovely on a cold winter’s day, hot water washes away the skin’s protective barrier (which locks in moisture) faster than cool water.
Choose moisturizing soaps.
Do you know what else strips away your skin’s natural protective barrier? Soap! So when you’re purchasing soap for bathing and hand-washing, only select products that are designed to moisturize your hands. For example, the brands Dove and Olay offer a variety of hydrating soaps and cleansers.
Select a thick, moisture-sealing moisturizer.
Winter is the ideal time to use thick, heavy moisturizers (thicker than you would use in the summertime). The thick texture will help seal in moisture and provide more long-term, intense healing. For example, you might wish to use a cream or a balm instead of lotion. Your skin will happily soak up the hydration.
Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or washing your hands.
Did you know that post-bath is the best time to moisturize? You’ve just washed away some of your skin’s natural oils, but if you apply moisturizer promptly, your skin will soak up and seal in the moisture.
No matter how itchy your skin feels, don’t itch! Instead, apply moisturizer to relieve the itch. If that doesn’t work, try applying a cold pack or compress.
Use a rich lip balm.
Because the skin on your lips is quite thin, it’s more likely to feel dry and flaky in wintertime, especially if you go out in windy weather or live in a home with dry air. Apply a rich, hydrating lip balm to prevent your lips from becoming dry and chapped.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, these winter dry skin remedies may help you relieve that “winter itch.” If you know that your skin often becomes dry, cracked, and flaky in wintertime, be sure to put these ideas into practice at the beginning of the season, before your skin has a chance to worsen.
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