Living Well: Don’t let dry winter air affect your skin
When the air is cold and contains less humidity during winter months, we tend to do things to stay warm — such as run the heat in our homes and crank up the hot water in the shower — that contribute to dry skin.
Dr. Laurie Good, dermatologist at Memorial Regional Health, said it’s just as important in Colorado’s dry climate to use a daily moisturizing cream from head-to-toe as it is to drink water.
“The older you are, the more important that is because we become less adept at retaining moisture with age,” she said.
Dry skin conditions
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When skin becomes abnormally dry, itchy and cracked, it’s called asteatotic eczema — a condition that Dr. Good sees a lot of in the wintertime.
“We also see a lot of seborrheic dermatitis — which is the medical term for dandruff — as we transition from one season to another. This typically presents with an itchy, flaky scalp, but it also commonly occurs between the eyebrows, the sides of the nose and in the ears,” she said. “The change in temperature, humidity and bathing habits can all contribute to flare of ‘seb derm.’”
In addition to the itchy, dry and cracked skin, asteatotic eczema can also include little dry pink bumps, sometimes with a dry riverbed appearance, Dr. Good said. This most commonly occurs on the back, flank and lower legs or ankles.
In order to avoid common dry skin conditions during winter months, here are a few tips:
- Moisturize daily with a fragrance-free cream or ointment
- Use warm, but not hot, water in the shower
- Try a humidifier if you are eczema-prone to add moisture to the air
- Use gentle cleansers that don’t deplete moisture from skin
Seven tips for healing dry, chapped lips
- Use non-irritating lip balms (your lips shouldn’t tingle, burn or sting when you apply lip balm — this is a sign of irritation).
- Apply non-irritating lip balm or lip moisturizer several times per day and before bed.
- Slather on non-irritating lip balm with SPF 30 or higher before going outdoors.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Stop licking, biting and picking at your lips.
- Avoid holding items made of metal with your lips, such as paperclips, jewelry and other products that can irritate lips.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night — especially if you breathe through your mouth while sleeping.
Dermatology services at Memorial Regional Health
Board-certified Dermatologist Dr. Laurie Good provides full-spectrum skin care for patients of all ages, including children. Assisting her in her practice is Certified Physician Assistant Bridget Barnhart.
Dr. Good offers comprehensive dermatological care, including skin checks, biopsies, medical treatments, surgical treatments, cosmetic treatments and ongoing monitoring of skin conditions. If you’re unsure of if or when you should see a dermatologist, contact the office at 970-826-8080.
Seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff, usually presents with a greasy, yellow scale and sometimes itching on the scalp and central face.
If you have asteatotic eczema, you should see a dermatologist if the itchy skin doesn’t resolve or significantly improve after reducing shower temperature and applying daily moisturizing cream. It’s also time to visit the doctor if the condition appears to truly be a rash and not just marks from scratching, or if there are any other symptoms or locations associated with the itching, Dr. Good said.
If you have typical scalp or facial dandruff, Dr. Good said using the Clinical Strength Head and Shoulders in alternation with Neutrogena T/Sal shampoo (both are over-the-counter) can be very effective.
“If it does not resolve with showering three times weekly with one or the other above shampoos, seeing a dermatologist is a reasonable next step,” she said.
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