I’ve been seeing so many patients in my office lately with dry, itchy skin, so I wanted to pass along a few tips that might help if you or your kids are also dealing with this problem. This time of the year the air is very dry. The heaters are on, and the amount of moisture in the air decreases. My recommendations for dry skin include:
1. Avoid harsh soaps. During the summer months with more humidity in the air, our skin may tolerate these products. There is a misconception that for a soap to be effective in cleaning our skin, it must leave our skin feeling “tight.” But this is not true. Antibacterial soaps, liquid soaps, and soaps with fragrance can all strip the moisture out of our skin and leave it too dry. I advise patients to use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. My top recommendations are Dove fragrance-free bar soap, Cera-ve, Cetaphil, Basis, and Aveeno.
2. Immediately moisturize after bathing. I advise patients to only “sponge dry” with their towel when they finish bathing. They should then take a good “dollop” of moisturizer and, using the water on their skin, rub it in all over. This will both block the moisture in and hep hydrate the skin. Moisturize again during the day if your skin starts feeling dry. Use a fragrance-free moisturizer. If your skin is dry, fragrance will only further irritate your skin.
3. Minimize bathing to once daily. Try not to bathe with very hot water as this increases the evaporation of moisture off the skin.
4. Keep a cool mist humidifier running during the cold winter months to add moisture back to the air.
5. For patients that have extremely dry skin, there are prescription strength moisturizers that contain ingredients such as lactic acid or urea that can help. Also, supplementation with omega 3 fish oils can also help.
Hope these tips help keep you and your skin healthy and feeling good this winter!
Note from the mamas: This article originally published in January 2010 on nwaMotherlode.