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De-Winterize Your Skin

Simple steps can ward off seasonal dryness

SUNDAY, Jan. 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Dry air in winter can cause dry and itchy skin, but there are some simple steps you can take to protect your skin, said dermatologist Dr. Sarah Myers of Duke University.

"It's important to try and control some parts of your immediate environment. The goal is to keep as much moisture in the skin as possible to prevent any itching, irritation or redness," Myers said in a prepared statement.

She offers the following tips:

  • Use humidifiers throughout the house, or at least in the bedroom.
  • Wear protective gloves to minimize exposure to the elements.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers instead of longer, hotter ones.
  • Use gentler, non-deodorant soaps and use moisturizing shampoos on hair that is frequently curled or blow-dried.
  • After showering and before drying off completely, apply a moisturizer or emollient to your skin.
  • People with very dry skin should use thicker or oil-based moisturizers and ointments and apply them liberally on fingertips and knuckles.
  • Use a Vaseline-based emollient to protect your lips.

If you do develop dry skin and over-the-counter products don't relieve the itching or your skin begins to crack and break down, you should consult a doctor, Myers said. You should also see a doctor if you develop red patches, crusting of the skin, and cracks that won't heal.

More information

The Pennsylvania Medical Society has more about winter and skin.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Jan. 18, 2006
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