Winter Skin

Dry, itchy skin is synonymous with winter, but it can be soothed
By Tamlyn Vincent

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Dry skin. Itching. Red cheeks. A tight feeling to skin. Fine lines, cracking or even scaly skin. These are all symptoms of winter skin, and while they may be normal, even expected at the onset of winter, there are solutions.
 
During winter, the cold temperatures and the drop in humidity rob the air of moisture, leaving your skin feeling dry. Inevitably, heaters get turned on and we have hot showers or run hot baths for the children. But this only adds to the problem of dry skin, as heating removes more moisture from the air, and the longer we sit in hot water, the more moisture leaves our skin. Certain soaps and chemicals, such as those found in cleaning products, also dry out skin, as do alcohol-based or perfumed moisturisers. And scrubbing the skin, especially with a lot of soap, doesn’t help either.
 
But there are a number of ways to deal with dry, scratchy skin:
 
  • Limit bath or shower time, and avoid using very hot water. If children have been inside all day, they shouldn’t be too grubby, and a quick wash down will do.
  • Choose a mild oil-based, perfume-free soap for bath time, and avoid lathering up too much.
  • If skin is very dry or itchy, try a soothing oatmeal bath. Grind up some oats until very fine, and sprinkle into the bath, making sure you don’t have any clumps. But be careful as this could make the bath a little slippery.
  • Instead of rubbing yourself or your children dry, pat dry with a soft towel.
  • Apply moisturiser straight after drying, when the skin is still a little damp. This helps the skin absorb and keep as much moisture as possible. Choose a moisturiser that doesn’t have added fragrances and if necessary, use a thicker moisturiser.
  • If you’re washing dishes or using cleaning products, wear vinyl or rubber gloves.
  • Replace some of the moisture in the air by using a humidifier. If you’re using this in your child’s room, look for a cool mist humidifier.
  • To avoid the winter chill and the wind from getting the better of your skin, use gloves, scarves and hats when venturing outside. It’s also best to wear soft, natural fabrics, and avoid anything too scratchy, such as coarse wool.
  • Dry skin can trigger an eczema flare up so make sure you thoroughly moisturise any areas prone to eczema. If dry skin or a rash persists, speak to a doctor. 

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