Keep your skin healthy during the wintertime
MRH board-certified dermatologist Dr. Laurie Good has two simple rules to care for your skin during these dry winter months
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October through March, Dr. Laurie Good recites these two rules to practically every patient who walks through her practice’s door. As a dermatologist at Memorial Regional Health, she sees every day what our cold, low-humidity climate does to winter skin. Here’s what she recommends for keeping the flakes and itchiness at bay.
1. Take a colder shower or bath
“When it’s cold outside, we love our hot showers,” Dr. Good said. “However, in the winter, when we step out of a hot shower into the colder air of the bathroom — we lose all our moisture.”
This evaporative loss becomes worse as we get older. As we age, we become less adept at retaining moisture in our skin, she said. And some medications, such as statins, are further dehydrating to skin. So, Dr. Good advises, if your dry skin is bothering you, try turning down your water temperature.
“It’s not a popular suggestion, but it helps,” she said.
2. Moisturize every day
Whether or not you follow rule number one, Dr. Good’s second rule for improving flaky, itchy “winter skin” is to gently blot your skin dry when you get out of the shower or tub — no vigorous rubbing or wiping — then immediately slather on a thick coat of a good moisturizer.
What’s a good moisturizer?
“If it comes in a pump, it’s probably too runny to be useful in our climate. Instead, look for a thick, fragrance-free moisturizing cream that comes in a jar. Children and people with eczema may need to use an ointment, which is even thicker than a cream,” Dr. Good said.
Of course, our hands in winter deserve special attention. They get extra-dry because of frequent hand-washing.
“Those little splits and skin fissures on our fingertips are painful,” Dr. Good said. “For hands, I recommend an ointment like Aquaphor, and I suggest applying it after every hand-washing.”
Dr. Good and her team diagnose and treat hundreds of skin diseases at MRH, providing full-spectrum skincare for patients of all ages, including children, in Craig and Steamboat Springs.
Other dry winter weather tips:
• Use a humidifier to help to keep your skin hydrated.
• Lower or maintain the thermostat at a cooler yet comfortable setting, about 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, because cranking up the heat only dries out the air.
• The wrong soap can worsen dry and itchy skin. Instead, look for products with simple ingredients and always make sure they are “fragrance-free.” The same is true for lip balms and Chapstick.
• If your skin is itchy and dry, avoid putting a wool sweater next to your skin. Try to wear a layer of soft, breathable material and put your winter sweater on top of that.
Is your dry skin something more? If you have more than one of the symptoms below, you could have eczema and should seek a professional assessment.
• Dry skin
• Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
• Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
• Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
• Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
• Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
For more information on services provided or to schedule an appointment, call 970-826-8080 or learn more at memorialregionalhealth.com/healthcare-services/dermatology.
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