As the cooler weather arrives and we have to turn on the heat many people are prone to dry and itchy skin.  This can be minor for some people and more of a disaster for others who struggle with dry skin to start with.  It can lead to flare ups of atopic dermatitis (eczema) and create cracks in the skin (creating a break in the barrier and possibly leading to infection).   There are numerous approaches to minimizing and alleviating the problem.

You may need to alter your skin care routine from the warmer months to the cooler months.  Using a milder cleanser and avoiding toners with alcohol is a good start.  If you are a fan of exfoliating, a more gentle approach may be helpful.  Finding a cleanser that is moisturizing for both your face and body is also helpful.

As tempting as it is to take a long steaming hot shower or bath when you are chilled to the bone, it will only make your skin drier by breaking down your skins lipid barrier.  It is recommended to minimize the amount of time bathing and to avoid temperature extremes.  Additionally, putting a moisturizer on immediately after bathing when the skin is still slightly damp can help to trap in the moisture.

Ingredients to look for in moisturizers include:

  •  Glycerin
  • Sorbitol
  • AHA
  • Petroleum/Petrolatum
  • Urea
  • Lactic Acid
  • Olive Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Shea butter
  • Hyaluronic Acid/Sodium Hyaluronidase
  • Dimethicone
  • Lanolin
  • Aloe Barbadensis
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
  • Mineral Oil

It is also helpful to avoid heavily fragranced products.

A few face/neck/décolleté creams we love and recommend here at Toccare/TOC Medical Spa include:

There are products that are specific to body areas.  For instance, hand creams tend to be heavier than face creams.  Our hands (and feet!) have fewer oil glands so require more moisture replacement.  Make a habit of moisturizing at bedtime as this allows the skin to absorb the moisture during your sleeping hours.

Lips can be a particularly irritating area when they loose moisture.  Sealing in moisture and always maintaining a barrier is the best way to treat lips.  We tend to lick our lips more as they become irritated.  This actually makes matters worse by breaking down the barrier even more.  Keeping a lip balm on your person is the best defense.  I love Lip Drink™ by Jane Iredale.  It is moisturizing, has an SPF from titanium dioxide and tastes like lemonade!

Diet is part of the solution as well.  Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fats can help your skin maintain a lipid barrier.  Avocados, fish, nuts, olive oil, flax seed/flax seed oil and sardines are all sources of Omega-3 fats.    Additionally, drinking plenty of fluid is helpful.

If an area becomes particularly dry and irritated it may be time to try over the counter hydrocortisone cream.  This usually manages minor irritation and eczema.  If irritation persists, it is advisable to seek the care of a dermatologist.

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