Dry skin - Combating That Winter Itch
Winter is here and many of us relate winter weather with suffering from itchy, dry skin. Chapped lips, dry, cracked hands, flaking skin; all signs of the season.
For people suffering from skin conditions like eczema, or psoriasis (Read more on Patient portal for Eczema and Psoriasis treatment and skincare patient portal) this can be a time of year spent dealing with skin flare-ups.
What Is Dry Skin?
The water content of the skin varies depending on which layer. The epidermis is approximately 80%, while the very surface of the skin, the stratum corneum, is much drier. It is made up of dead skin cells and has a water content of 10-30%.
When this outside layer, the stratum corneum, gets dry, it tends to lose its luster and produce what we know as dry skin. Skin that has low water content will dry and fissure, making it more prone to bacterial and fungal infections.
See Fungal Infections patient siteto learn more.
What Moisturizers Can Do:
Moisturizers are designed to reduce water loss and prevent further dryness. They may cause the skin to swell slightly and thereby reduce fine wrinkles and make pores appear smaller, but they do not reverse sun damage. They also can protect your skin from environmental elements and make your skin feel soft and smooth.
Moisturizing helps your skin in a four step process:
- Repairs the skin barrier
- Increases water content
- Reduces water loss
- Restores the skin's ability to attract, hold and redistribute water
Here are some hints to help you deal with your winter itch:
- Even though it's cold, taking a hot bath is not the answer to relive your dry skin. In fact, it has the opposite effect, leaving your skin drier because it removes the natural oils in your skin and allows water to evaporate from your skin faster.
- Moisturize right after your bath. Slather on the moisturizer while your skin is still damp to help seal in the moisture.
- Thick, greasy moisturizers are usually the most effective eg. Put petroleum jelly on your hands, covered with cotton gloves at night
- Moisturizers that have lactic acid or urea in them can pull water into the skin
- Use a hand moisturizer after each hand washing. People that work in environments where their hands are consistently wet (i.e. Hair dressers) need to be especially concerned about keeping their hands moisturized.
Looking after your skin is important, especially in the winter months when it can have harsh treatment from the outside elements.
To get more tips about caring for your skin go to skincareguide.ca/365skincaretips.html.