Skin Care in the Winter
By Dr. Christine Sauer
Do you have dry skin, especially in the winter? As the seasons change, so does our skin. When it gets cold outside and we turn on the heater, our skin often feels drier or starts to itch.
Why is that?
The amount of moisture the air can hold varies with temperature. The warmer the air, the more water vapour it can hold without fogging. In the winter months the cold air from outside contains very little water vapour. When we heat this air, the relative moisture in the air drops further and this dries out the skin. It gets flaky and often itchy. This is especially true for the aging skin that tends to be drier anyway. Dry skin is truly a common problem.
What can we do to keep our skin from drying out too much and stop the “winter itch”?
The right way to clean our skin: Do not shower more than once every second day, if possible. Do not use shower gel or body wash. Even if it says “skin friendly” or “contains moisturizer”. It removes the natural oils that the skin produces and damages the skin bacterial flora.
So how do we stay clean without starting to smell?
Use soap sparingly just in the armpits and private area. These areas contain a specialized kind of glands (so-called apocrine glands) that produce the body odour. Other areas of the body have just regular sweat glands (so-called eccrine glands) that keep the skin moist but do not produce odours. Water is enough to clean these areas. Shampoo the hair over the sink or bending forward in the shower, if you can, to prevent the shampoo running all over your body. Shower not too hot and as short as possible and turn it to cold at the end to increase circulation.
Do not soak in the tub. If you enjoy a full bath, do not use bubble baths. Epsom salts and a drop or two of your favorite essential oil is a better choice.
Use a fragrance-free natural moisturizer when you come out of the shower or tub and apply either to the wet skin or right after toweling dry. This is an important step, especially for the aging skin. The drier and flakier your skin tends to be, the fattier the moisturizer should be. After a shower or bath, the skin is hungry for moisturizing an ready to absorb it. Organic virgin coconut oil is the choice of many with dry skin since it is non-irritating, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial at the same time.
If you develop skin issues that go beyond just dry skin, don’t hesitate to show it to your family doctor or dermatologist (or ask me) for help.