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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Found a great article for anyone who suffers from "Winter Itch." I do... and it seems like NOTHING works !!! I have changed lotions 3 times so far!! Hopefully, this article will be helpful to you!!

Dry Skin and Winter Itch

10 Cold-Weather Options

If you're reading this at your home in Miami Beach, you can probably skip this chapter. Go out and bask in the warm, moist air. Give your skin a good drink of tropical humidity. Enjoy yourself. Have a nice day.

Okay, now that they're gone, the rest of us can get down to the business of keeping our skin from flaking off in a bunch of little piles while we scratch away the remaining months until spring. Yes, those of us who live in cold, dry climates—where the forced-air heater runs day and night—are the ones who know the agony of dry skin and winter itch.

Well, what to do about it? Easy. Turn down the heat and move to Florida. Can't move? Then at least turn down the heat; that's a big step along the path to healthier winter skin. There are plenty more steps you can take, and we've listed many of them here. They all follow one basic premise, however, and it's this: Dryness results from a lack of water in your skin—not oil. Keep that in mind as you read this and as you go about your daily routine this winter, and your skin will thank you for it.

Don't try to drink dryness away. Many beauty books and glamour magazines recommend drinking "at least seven or eight glasses of water per day" to keep the skin hydrated and prevent dryness. Don't believe it.

"If you're totally dehydrated, your skin will become dry," says Kenneth Neldner, M.D., a professor and chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. "But if you are normally hydrated, you cannot possibly counteract or correct dry skin by drinking water."

Put water where it counts. "The best way to get water into the skin is by soaking in it," says Hillard H. Pearlstein, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He recommends a 15-minute soak in lukewarm water, not hot water. And forget the notion that you should bathe every day. The rule of thumb for dry skin is: Bathe less and use cooler water.

Lubricate the skin. "Follow each bath with a moisturizer," says Dr. Pearlstein. "The tendency is for all the moisture that soaked into the skin to evaporate. If you bathe frequently, a moisturizer is doubly important. The moisturizer is what holds the water in.

Dr. Pearlstein says many people think the reason for applying moisturizers is to put oil back into the skin, but that's not totally true. "Just remember that dry skin is a function of water loss, not of oil loss, he says.

"Everybody knows how easy it is to cut the toenails or fingernails after they've been in water," he explains. "That's a good example of hydration, of what happens to the skin when you bathe." Moisturizers applied after the bath help keep water in the skin and therefore prevent drying.
Dry yourself damp—then stop. "It's much more effective to apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after bathing than to put it on totally dry skin," says Dr. Neldner.

That's not to say you have to hop from the tub or shower soaking wet and immediately apply lotion. "But a couple of pats with a towel will make you as dry as you want to be before you apply the lotion," he says. "You're trying to trap a little water in the skin, and that's the fundamental rule of fighting off dryness."

Don't get greased by ad hype. "Nothing beats plain petroleum jelly or mineral oil as a moisturizer," says Howard Donsky, M.D., associate professor at the University of Toronto and staff dermatologist at Toronto General Hospital. In fact, for those who don't mind the feeling, virtually any vegetable oil (sunflower oil, peanut oil) or hydrogenated oil (Crisco) can be used to combat dry skin and winter itch. They are effective, safe, and pure skin lubricants. They are very inexpensive as well.

Those products do have one drawback, however. All of them tend to be greasy. "People like things that smell good, feel good, and don't make them feel like a greased pig," Dr. Pearlstein says. "It all depends on how much you want to spend, what you want to smell like, and how you want to feel. All moisturizers do the same basic thing, and there's no scientific way to prove that any one of the commercially available products is any better for you than another. It's strictly your personal decision."

Use oatmeal to heal. Some researchers believe people first discovered the skin-soothing effects of oatmeal nearly 4,000 years ago. Many folks are still discovering it today. "Oatmeal can work in the bath as a soothing agent," says Dr. Donsky. Just pour 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal (like Aveeno, available at pharmacies) into a tub of lukewarm water. The term colloidal simple means the oatmeal has been ground to find powder that will remain suspended in water.

"You can also use oatmeal as a soap substitute," he says. Tie some colloidal oatmeal in a handkerchief, dunk if in water, squeeze out the excess water, and use as you would a normal washcloth.

Select superfatted soaps. "Most soaps have lye in them," says Dr. Pearlstein, "and while lye is great for cleaning, it's very irritating to dry skin." He recommends that people with dry skin avoid strong soaps such as Dial or Ivory and reach instead for "superfatted" soaps like Basis, Neutrogena, or Dove. Superfatted soaps have extra amounts of fatty substances—cold cream, cocoa butter, coconut oil, or lanolin—added during the manufacturing process.

"A product like Dove, for instance, isn't really a soap at all," Dr. Pearlstein says. "It's more like a cold cream." But such are the trade-offs in the skin game. Though they don't clean as well, "the superfatted soaps are less irritating to dry skin," he says, "and they do make a difference."
Don't soap as often. "There's nothing therapeutic about soap," says Dr. Pearlstein. "We in America are the great overwashed, overdeodorized society, and we as dermatologists see more problems from the overuse of soap than we ever do from the lack of it." His advice: If it's not dirty, don't wash it.

Let a humidifier help. "Part of the problem with dry skin and itching is dry heat in the wintertime," says Dr. Pearlman. Furnace-heated air can reduce the humidity level inside your house to 10 percent or less, whereas 30 to 40 percent is closer to ideal for keeping moisture in your skin. For that reason, our experts all recommend the use of humidifiers during those dry winter months—but with a caution.

"People think that if they put a humidifier in their place, that'll take care of it," says Dr. Pearlstein. "But humidifiers are like air conditioners—you would really need a huge unit to do the whole house. However, if you put a smaller unit next to your bed, that can help."
"If you put a humidifier in your bedroom," Dr. Neldner adds, "then be sure you close the door to keep moisture in."

Does it help to do things like leaving the bathroom door open when you take a shower? "It might help for a little while," Dr. Neldner says, "because every little bit of humidity helps. When you're running that furnace in the winter, you're really sucking the moisture out of the air."

Keep it cool. One good way to combat winter itch is as easy as reaching for your thermostat and turning it down. "Keeping your house on the cool side in the winter might help," says Dr. Pearlstein. "That's because cool air has an anesthetic effect—it makes your skin feel good." When you heat your house too much, he explains, it makes blood vessels dilate, and when blood vessels dilate, the itch/tingle cycle begins. "But when you cool skin, either by cool water or cool air, it feels good," Dr. Pearlstein says. "And skin tends to be less itchy if you keep it on the cool side."

1 comment:

caramelnaps25 said...

Although I am in Georgia where it normally does not get "as" cold, I suffer with dry skin. I am going to follow these ideas. I luv a "hot" bath or shower though:( I know its not good, but........ Off to add to my list of things to buy/do:)