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Dry Skin? Don't Let Winter Win

Here are tips for keeping supple in the cold season

SATURDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Dry winter air can cause your skin to crack, chafe, itch and develop dry patches, but there are a number of things you can do to protect your skin, says Jeff Moore, an instructor of pharmaceutics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

"During cold spells, your skin is constantly bombarded, dried out, and increasingly susceptible to infection," Moore said in a university news release. He offered a number of winter skin care tips:

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water a day, because when we're properly hydrated, our skin lubricates itself from the inside.
  • Don't take long, hot showers. Instead, take shorter, warm showers. The steam and heat associated with long, hot showers can draw out moisture on the skin and cause dryness.
  • Use lotions and creams to create a barrier that protects your skin against dryness. For best results, apply a product with ingredients such as shea butter and petrolatum immediately after a shower or bath, when your skin is still moist.
  • Exfoliate regularly. This not only removes rough dry patches, but it promotes new cell growth and enhances the absorption of skin care products. Apply a moisturizer after exfoliating so that moisture brought to the surface doesn't immediately evaporate.
  • Don't use harsh soaps or cleansers, which contain preservatives, fragrances and lye that can irritate skin. Instead, use products that contain glycerin, which traps and maintains moisture.
  • Use a humidifier to counter the dry air created by furnaces and other heating devices. A humidifier in the bedroom can help combat dry skin.

It's best to start taking care of your skin early in the winter, before dryness has a chance to set in, Moore said.

"While we often neglect our skin, or only treat it for cosmetic reasons, it's important to remember that our skin is an organ, part of the body just like anything else, and requires constant care," he said.

More information

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology has more about dry skin.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, news release, Nov. 18, 2008

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