As the cooler Fall temperatures set in and the hot, humid days leave us, the inevitable complaint of dry skin becomes more frequent. Many people are plagued by itchy, red and even cracked dry skin during the Fall and Winter months. It is a bothersome skin condition that deserves attention so you can fully enjoy the cooler seasons.
We all know what dry skin looks like and especially how dry skin feels. But what is really going on at the skin’s surface? Skin barrier function plays an important role in the process of skin retaining moisture to stay smooth and supple. The skin barrier is made up of lipids and ceramides that essentially join together to protect against bacteria and to keep moisture in. When there is a compromise in the skin barrier, moisture can escape and irritants can penetrate beyond this protective outer layer leading to dry, inflamed, itchy skin. However, here are some very helpful tips that you should follow at home to avoid dry skin and help restore that skin barrier:
- Avoid hot water – Bathing in hot water will dry out your skin. Taking baths longer than 15 minutes and bathing too frequently will also destroy your skin’s natural oils and contribute to dry skin.
- Avoid using harsh soaps – Choose gentle soaps for sensitive skin because deodorant and antibacterial soaps tend to be too harsh for areas other than your armpits or feet.
- Be gentle – Vigorous rubbing when bathing and when drying after bathing can further break down the skin barrier. Instead of rubbing, just pat the skin dry with a towel.
- Moisturize! – This is the most important step you can follow in your daily skin care regimen. Moisturizers inhibit the evaporation of water and can help to repair the skin barrier. The best time to apply a moisturizer is after bathing to slightly damp skin. Be sure to avoid fragranced lotions or creams.
- Add a cool mist humidifier to the home – Your home heating system could be drying out your skin. You can use a cool mist humidifier to restore the humidity in your home and help your winter dry skin condition.
If you continue to struggle with your dry, itchy skin during the cool weather months, please consult a dermatologist for professional help and customized treatment for your dry skin.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, Olansky Dermatology Associates