Wellness Matters

4 Tips for Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

January 25, 2016

As cold weather sets in, you may begin to suffer from a skin condition known as “winter itch.” This is when dry air causes skin to lose the thin layer of oil that traps moisture under the skin, causing itchy and painful episodes.

Occasionally, very dry skin will crack open and bleed, usually on the hands or feet. Before you get to this point, follow these four tips to keep the skin moist and prevent discomfort.

  1. Take shorter showers. When it’s cold outside, it is tempting to take long, hot showers. However, shorter showers at cooler temperatures are better for the skin. Avoid thick lather and pat dry, don’t rub, with a towel.
  2. Wear breathable clothing. Dressing with a base layer of a breathable, non-irritating fabric, such as cotton or silk, will help keep the skin healthy. Wearing clothing that is looser fitting will prevent excess chaffing.
  3. Use a humidifier. Keeping the air moist is beneficial for the skin. When we are in heated environments, the air is very dry. A humidifier set at 50 percent humidity will slow down the drying process.
  4. Moisturize. Use a thick moisturizing cream that is fragrance free. Apply it twice a day, especially right after bathing. Avoid harsh soaps. Use a moisturizing soap that has few additives or fragrances.

Winter weather is always going to be dryer. Dry skin can lead to uncomfortable scaly patches and full blown rashes. A little preventative care can go a long way to help you avoid extreme discomfort. If your skin continues to be irritated after trying these tips, you should talk to your doctor or a dermatologist to see if there is an underlying condition, such as eczema.

About the Author

Stuart O. Tafeen, MD is a dermatologist at Carolina Dermatology Center, a Cone Health Medical Group practice.

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