Healing the Rough Patches

Although spring is right around the corner, this time of year it seems as if everyone is scratching dry skin. With the temperature changing every day¬° one day it’s 70, the next day it’s back down to the cool, crisp 30, your emotions are on a weather roller coaster, but your skin is taking most of the abuse. Now is the time to prep your tender skin for those warm months ahead (even if they seem far away).

Prevention

You may be thinking it’s too late for prevention, but it’s never too late to take care of your skin. Here are some simple tips for preventing dry, chapped skin:

1. Avoid scolding hot showers: Tempting as it may be when the temperature cools down and you think there’s no other way to warm up other than a long, hot shower, hot water will dry your skin out even more than it already is.
2. Don’t linger in the shower: There are some days when all you want to do is stay in the shower until it turns ice cold, but dermatologists suggest limiting your showers to 5-10 minutes. A long shower can actually dehydrate your skin.
3. Don’t use harsh soaps: Many bar soaps can dry out your skin. Try using a mild soap or a moisturizing body wash.
4. Pat dry: Rubbing yourself roughly with a towel after a shower can irritate the skin. Instead, pat yourself dry.
5. Seal it in: After you wash your hands, make sure to apply hand cream to seal in the moisture.
6. Good night: Many people don’t think to put on moisturizer before bed, but it’s a good time to slather it on.
7. Vaseline and gloves: If your hands are unusually dry, try lathering on Vaseline and wear thin, cotton gloves to bed.
8. Try a humidifier: Dry heat during those cold days and nights can also dry your skin. A humidifier can relieve stale, dry air and your skin.

Moisturizers

Don’t believe the hype that moisturizers are not for every skin type! Even people with oily skin should use a moisturizer, because oily skin could be from dry patches that clog the pores. Moisturizer is commonly used to make your skin look and feel smooth, but it can also relieve itchy dry skin and reduce breakouts. It may even eliminate the early signs of aging and protect you from sun damage. You may think moisturizer is used to provide moisture to your skin, but the reality is that a moisturizer actually helps your skin retain its own moisture level. With that in mind, depending on the type of skin you have, you should add a moisturizer to your daily cleansing routine. For dry skin: use moisturizers that are heavy and oil-based. For extremely dry skin: use a moisturizer with emollients, which reduces moisture evaporation and increases hydration. For oily skin: use a light moisturizer that is oil-free and water-based. Avoid mineral oils and mineral waxes, as they tend to clog pores. Look for products that have silicones, which can slightly dry oily skin. For combination skin: use a moisturizer that contains alpha hydroxy acids and vitamin A retinols.

The best time to apply moisturizer is after you wash or shower. Your skin is still slightly damp (but not wet), which seals in the moisture. When applying moisturizer, apply the desired amount onto clean fingertips. In a circular motion, gently smooth it onto the skin. Do not rub it in completely. Let the moisturizer rest on your face/body and naturally absorb it. By continuously rubbing the moisturizer in, your fingertips will absorb most of the lotion. Nighttime moisturizers are tempting but not always necessary. If you have oily skin, give your face a break after cleansing at night and let your natural oils do the hard work. For dryer skin, apply a light moisturizer.

Skin Disorders

Extremely dry, scaly skin can also be a sign of a skin disorder. If your itchy skin turns red and begins to feel uncomfortable, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. There are two common skin disorders.:

1.)Eczema is an inherited dry skin condition. It usually affects the face or the areas where your body bends.
2.)Psoriasis has strong genetic and environmental components. Psoriasis is thick, red sore spots with very thick white scales on top of them. Initially, these are on the scalp, elbows and knees, but they can spread.

If you feel you have either, do yourself a favor and see your dermatologist. He’ll have plenty of things to help you.

Copyright (c) 2007 Barry Lycka