Oct. 29, 1997 Between cold air, reduced humidity and furnaces, winter is a tough time for skin. But tips from the National Jewish Medical and Research Center can keep skin soft and moist through the worst winter storms.
"With the drop in humidity and the cold air, there’s a rise in dry skin throughout the country," explains Noreen Nicol, R.N., M.S., F.N.P., an expert in skin care issues and director of Nursing at National Jewish.
Lack of water, not grease or oil, causes dry skin, she says. "Soaking and sealing" is the best way to keep skin from drying out during the winter or any other time of the year. Soak skin in water—whether taking a shower or a bath—then immediately seal it with a moisturizer to keep skin soft.
"If you’re only going to do one thing after your daily bath or shower, ‘soak and seal,’" Nicol says. "Put on moisturizer from head to toe."
Ask a pharmacist for an over-the-counter ointment-based moisturizer; its texture is similar to petroleum jelly. If an ointment is too greasy, try a thinner creme or an even more-diluted lotion. The thinner the moisturizer, the more often it needs to be applied to be effective.
People who have dry skin all year round could be facing a different and more substantial skin problem that needs specialized medical treatment. "If a person has dry skin throughout the year, not just during the winter, and it seems to be associated with allergies, it could be atopic dermatitis," she says. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that primarily affects children; one in every 10 children has atopic dermatitis. Characterized by red, dry, cracking, itchy skin, this disease can be caused by food allergies, such as egg, peanut, milk and fish, or worsened by irritants, such as detergents, soaps or fabrics.
For more information on these topics, call LUNG LINE, (800) 222-LUNG.
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