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Tips to Prevent Itchy, Dry Skin this Winter

By , Managing Editor
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
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No matter how we try to deny the beginning of the colder months, as our suntans fade and we pile on more layers of clothing, our dry, itchy skin is a less-than-kind reminder that winter is here and summer is long gone.

But you don't have to leave behind the glowing, healthy skin you experience in the warmer months. Dry skin may be a common "symptom" of winter, but it doesn't mean you have to be uncomfortable until next bathing suit season.

Is your dry skin normal?
Why does winter mean dry skin? Our skin gets dryer in the winter because the moisture (humidity) in the air decreases rapidly. We also start cranking the heat in our homes, cars and offices. That hot shower you love on a cold morning? While it may feel great, it can also be a cause of future discomfort.

Typical dry skin is rougher in texture and may be red and itchy. The skin can be dry anywhere on the body, but the areas most commonly affected are the limbs and abdomen. The skin may be flaky or have an ashen appearance as well.

This type of dry skin can typically be remedied with store bought lotions, creams and moisturizers. However, if your dry skin is characterized by red, inflamed and scaly patches, hives or a rash that lasts longer than a week and doesn't respond to topical treatments, you may need to check with your doctor. These symptoms are characteristic of inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and eczema as well as hypothyroidism.

Ingredients to Look For
Shopping for a body moisturizer can be a daunting process. There are countless options that soften, tone, tighten and tan skin, but sticking with something simple is the best way to get what your skin needs. Add the special effects after you've found a brand that agrees with your skin. According to WebMD, these ingredients are the ones to check for when shopping for a moisturizer:

  • Hyaluronic Acid -- While the word "acid" may seem harsh, this acid actually helps the skin keep water in.
  • Emollients -- These ingredients lock moisturize into the skin, especially when contained in body washes or soaps or applied after getting out of the shower. Lanolin, petroleum jelly and mineral oil are common examples.
  • Vitamins -- Certain nutrients benefit the tissues specifically. Be on the lookout for vitamin C and vitamin E, for their antioxidant benefits.
  • Ceramides -- Ceramides are found within the outermost layer of the skin, helping it hold in water. But as we get older, the amount of ceramides we have decreases, and synthetic, plant-sourced versions can be used to mimic this action, giving your skin back its plump, smooth appearance.
  • Dimethicone and Glycerine -- Again, ingredients that sound like harsh chemicals, but fear not, these ones help skin attract water like a magnet.

If your skin is usually dry or otherwise sensitive, avoiding harsh chemicals, soaps and perfumes or fragrances can be helpful to prevent irritating the skin. Looking for the word "mild" on the bottle can really help you find a product made for dry or sensitive skin. You may also choose to avoid parabens, which are preservatives. They're not shown to worsen dry skin, but are a common ingredient many people feel strongly about (Learn more about them here).

More Healthy Skin Advice
Beyond the topical treatments, there are some other changes you can make to your diet and health and beauty routine to protect skin all year long. Follow these tips to make your skin "winterproof":

  1. Drink lots of water to hydrate from the inside out.
  2. Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to protect the tissues by helping them retain more of their natural oils.
  3. Stick to clothing made from cotton or natural fabrics since synthetic and rougher fabrics, like wool, can irritate skin. 
  4. Lay off the harsh exfoliating products altogether or limit your use of them to once per week.
  5. Try to shorten your shower or bath time and avoid scorching hot water that will strip skin of its natural oils.
  6. Apply moisturizer immediately after exiting the shower and patting skin dry to promote moisture retention.

Find a great selection of natural moisturizers at eVitamins to help you reverse your dry skin. Let the countdown to spring begin!


Products you may like:

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum
Why you may like this product? If very dry skin is your reality, this lotion from Alba Botanica is for you. This lotion contains jojoba, sesame and grapeseed oils for 24-hour protection and nourishment without any artificial colors or parabens.
Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Lotion  Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Lotion 
Why you may like this product? Cocoa butter is one of the most trusted moisturizers out there. With its rich texture and natural ingredients like pure lanolin and cocoa butter, this lotion helps to soften and hydrate skin all over the body. It can also help tighten skin.
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