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Health Information Shield Your Skin from the Harsh Effects of Winter

Frigid temperatures, indoor heat and high-speed winds can wreak havoc on your skin during the winter months by causing major dryness. It's important to replace the moisture in your skin to ease discomfort, flaking and itching.

Protect yourself with these skin-saving tips:
 

  • Reduce your bath time. Keep showers and baths to a 10-minute maximum to avoid drying out your skin.
  • Be gentle to your skin. Don't exfoliate and avoid hot water, which can dehydrate the skin. Patting instead of rubbing your skin dry will reduce dryness, too.
  • Use a mild soap. Soap can remove moisture from your skin. Choose a mild soap such as Dove or Neutrogena that is hypoallergenic or fragrance free.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. "To guard against dry hands, moisturize your hands and wear gloves regularly when outdoors," says Mary Massa, MD, a dermatologist at Rush University Medical Center. Apply cream or lotion immediately after bathing while your skin is still damp in order to lock in moisture.
  • Protect yourself from the sun's rays. In winter, it is still essential to wear sunscreen. Snow is extremely reflective and can strengthen the effect of the sun's rays. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 while outdoors and apply to your face, hands and any other skin that may be exposed. Many products combine moisturizer with sunscreen. If you are unsure of which product to use, ask a dermatologist.
  • Humidify your home. Use a humidifier to offset the dry air created by furnaces and radiators. Place one in your bedroom to protect your skin while you sleep.
  • Do yourself some lip service. According to Massa, you should be careful not to lick your lips, which can further dry and irritate them. Apply lip balm regularly. If your lip dryness gets bad, an over-the-counter cortisone cream can help. If lips become red, cracked and itchy, she suggests that you see a dermatologist.
  • Don't forget your feet. Massa recommends that you don't neglect pedicures during the winter because dryness can aggravate already parched heels, which can lead to painful cracking of the heel skin.

This extra nourishment and care can help restore your skin. However, if you are suffering from severely cracked skin, consult a dermatologist.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For information on skin care at Rush visit the Department of Dermatology home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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Shield Your Skin from the Harsh Effects of Winter

   
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