As we approach the winter months, the air becomes dry allowing more moisture to escape from our skin compared to the humid summer months. This can result in dry skin and flares of eczema/dermatitis. As with most ailments, the best treatment is prevention, so keeping well moisturized with barrier creams BEFORE your skin becomes dry will help to delay or prevent some of these common cool weather conditions.
Quick tips to maintain hydrated skin this fall and winter:
1. Drink plenty of water. Rather than focusing on trying to drink a specific quantity of water per day (which varies with age, lifestyle, and health status), it is a more practical goal to simply to choose water as your “go-to” beverage when you are thirsty rather than dehydrating beverages like coffee and soda.
2. Take short/warm rather than long/hot showers. Prolonged hot showers can more readily strip our natural protective skin barriers. Get clean and get out.
3. Lock in the moisture. After patting dry from a shower, immediately apply your favorite moisturizer to lock in the moisture, then use as needed throughout the day. Our favorite brands are Aveeno, CereVe, Cetaphil, and Eucerin.
4. Humidification. Since the furnace is the primary culprit of dry air in our homes, be sure to turn on your built-in or portable humidifier before turning on the furnace for the season.
5. Avoiding excessive hand washing. It is important especially during the cold and flu season to prevent the spread of germs, but hand washing in excess can strip the natural protective barriers resulting in dry/chapped hands. Continue using soap and water for regular hand washing, but consider intermittent use of moisturizing hand sanitizers.
Flares of eczema and dermatitis often require prescription management when over-the-counter creams fail. Also, skin that develops dry patches that itch, sting, or bleed may be signs of a more serious skin condition. Over the next couple weeks Skin Speaks will be posting tips to identify some of these more severe skin conditions including psoriasis, skin cancer, and fungus.