Dry, itchy skin affects more than 80 percent of Americans and can be most prevalent during the cold winter months - when humidity and temperature drop - making skin particularly vulnerable to dryness and cracking.
"Frigid temperatures and low humidity can contribute to dry, winter skin," says New York City dermatologist Dr. Diane Berson. "It is important to take extra special care of skin during the winter, especially for those with sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin should look for products without dyes or fragrances."
If you have a problem with dry skin, Berson recommends that you consider the following:
* What personal care products do you use? Sensitivity to fragrances and dyes commonly found in soaps, lotions and even deodorants can be a frequent cause of skin irritation. Look for personal care products specially formulated for sensitive skin that are hypoallergenic and free of dyes and perfumes, such as all® Free Clear laundry detergent, the No.1 dermatologist and allergist recommended detergent for people with sensitive skin.
* Make the switch. As the temperature dips, your skin craves more moisture. Remember to replace lightweight summer lotion with lotions that have a higher concentration of emollients (lipids), which help skin seal in and retain moisture.
* Get vapor relief. Cranking up the thermostat in winter creates more dry heat, which can leave skin parched and lead to itchiness. Use a vaporizer, which produces hot steam, or humidifier, which produces cool mist, to add moisture to the air. Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect humidifiers regularly to prevent harmful particles from building up. This is especially important for people with mold allergies.
* Keep it cool. Chilly winters may make a long hot shower or bath sound enticing, but hot water can actually wash away skin's natural oils, leaving it extra dry and itchy. Instead, take warm showers and pat skin dry. To lock in moisture, apply body lotions containing ingredients like petrolatum and glycerin which work to keep skin hydrated. - NU