We're in the dead of winter, which is high time for dry skin. And it's such a pain. Not only does it physically hurt and itch, but it can be a downright nuisance. (Anyone with flaky lizard skin can attest to this.) Luckily, there are ways to end dry skin once and for all.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), on top of being flaky and itchy, but dry skin can also crack and bleed. In short, it's worth fixing. Life is just so much easier with smooth, moisturized skin. Foundation goes on nicely, socks pull on without snagging, and life is just generally all around better.
But before we get all excited about cures and remedies, let's first talk about what causes dry skin the first place. According to Mayo Clinic, dry weather, central heating, hot baths, harsh soaps, and sun exposure all can play a role in drying you out. People with other conditions, like atopic dermatitis (eczema) or a skin condition marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales (psoriasis) are prone to dry skin, according to Mayo Clinic. If you think your dry skin falls into one of those more serious categories, I recommend seeing a doctor before trying these tips.
As for run of the mill dry skin, there are things you can do to make your life less red, scratchy, and flaky. Here are some tips for fixing your dry skin once and for all.
1. Use Unscented Soaps And Lotions
If your skin is sensitive, you may be making your dryness worse by using a product that is just too much for your skin. According to AAD.org, "Some skin care products are too harsh for dry, sensitive skin. When your skin is dry, stop using deodorant soaps and skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Avoiding these products will help your skin retain its natural oils." Your skin's natural oils will help you feel moisturized, so stick to the gentlest products you can find.
2. Don't Take An Hour Long Shower (Even Though You Want To)
When it's cold outside, it's tempting to spend an hour soaking in the steam from a shower, or lolling around in a hot bath. But this can dry you out and make your skin feel worse. Instead, limit your shower or bath to five to 10 minutes and use warm water instead of your usual scalding hot, suggests AAD.org.
3. Moisturize It Up
Before you even step out of the shower, stand there and butter yourself up with the finest of lotions. According to AAD.org, "Ointments, creams, and lotions (moisturizers) work by trapping existing moisture in your skin. To trap this much-needed moisture, you need to apply a moisturizer within few minutes of drying off after a shower or bath [or] washing your face or hands." You'll feel much more comfortable throughout the day if you don't skip this crucial step.
4. Shave Gently, Or Just Rock Your Leg Hair
If you have super dry skin, you might want to consider phoning it in when it comes to shaving. According to Wendy C. Fries on WebMD.com, "Shaving can irritate dry skin. As you shave unwanted hair, you're also scraping off natural oils." (Again with the natural oils!) But if you must, Fries suggests always using a shaving cream or gel, and guiding your razor in the direction hair is growing to lessen irritation.
5. Shield Yourself From The Elements
Whether you're baking in the summer heat, or having your very life sucked out of your by icy winter wind, there's no doubt that the weather can cause itchy, flaky skin. As noted by Fries, "Sun damage is one of the main causes behind dry skin, wrinkles, and roughness. You can help prevent that damage by wearing a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen year-round and dressing right." In the summer, get yourself a big sunhat and some loose fitting long sleeve shirts. And in the winter, Fries points out the importance of dressing in layers to prevent overheating and sweating, both of which can irritate the skin.
6. Sleep Next To A Humidifier
It seems like winter is a lose-lose when it comes to dry skin. When you're outside, the cold wind wreaks havoc on your skin. And when you come home the dry air inside does just as much damage. According to Fries, "Cold, dry air is a common cause of dry, irritated skin. Heating your house keeps you warm, but it also removes moisture from the air, which can make dry skin even more parched." To remedy the situation, invest in a humidifier and aim for an indoor moisture level of about 50 percent, Fries suggests.
7. Coat Yourself In Milk To Stop Itchiness
Say what? It may sound weird, but milk is actually pretty good at relieving itchy skin. According to an article on Prevention.com, all you have to do is dip a washcloth into a bowl of milk and apply it to your skin for five minutes. The milk has anti-inflammatory properties that can stop itchiness.
8. Put On Thick Lotion & Sleep In Socks
If your hands are chapped and bleeding, or you heels cracked and raw, then something must be done. The best thing to do is sleep it off — once you put on petroleum jelly and socks, of course. According to Prevention.com, "Wear gloves to bed over greased-up raw, sore hands. Wear socks over your cracked heels. And wear a long-sleeved pajama top or T-shirt with snugly fitting sleeves over chapped elbows."
Dry skin doesn't have to be the bane of your existence. Fix your flaky self with shorter showers, lots of layers, and moisturizers for days.
Images: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash; Giphy