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Weathering Winter

Tips on how to cope with dry skin and other winter problems

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 18, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Chapped hands and lips, dry, itchy skin and colds are common problems during winter.

The Medical College of Wisconsin offers some tips on how you can deal with these daily issues caused by cold weather.

Winter's dry air can lead to dry, flaky and irritated skin, as well as chapped lips. One way to counter the dry air is to increase your fluid intake by drinking six to eight glasses of water or other kinds of non-caffeinated beverages.

Moisturizing creams can help your skin. If you have sensitive skin, use skin creams without perfumes. Apply skin creams generously and regularly.

A portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace will put moisture into the air inside your home and help prevent your skin and nasal passages from drying out. Be sure to properly clean your humidifier regularly.

You can also use saline nasal sprays to moisten your nasal passages and lip balms to help your chapped lips.

The common cold is another winter annoyance. While there is no cure, there are things you can do to prevent colds. The best form of prevention is frequent handwashing, especially before meals. You might also want to take 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day.

If you do catch a cold, you can reduce the symptoms by getting rest, drinking fluids and taking decongestants/antihistamines.

If you develop cold sores, you can get prescription anti-viral medications that will shorten the length of the outbreak. Remember that cold sores can be contagious if the fluid they contain comes into contact with an open sore or the lining of a person's mouth, nose or genital tract.

Remember to stay active this winter. Whether you walk, swim, ski, snowshoe or skate, just make sure you don't spend the entire winter on the couch.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about fighting dry skin during winter.

SOURCE: Medical College of Wisconsin, news release, December 2002
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