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In some areas of the country, the weather outside is still frightful and the result is dry, itchy, irritated skin.  There are many causes of dry winter skin:

Winter weather. Dry skin is especially common in the winter months, when the humidity level outside drops. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly. This makes your skin feel dry and tight, and makes it look flaky.

Indoor heating. Many of us spend more time inside in the winter and use indoor heating. Dry indoor air not only dries out your skin, it also dries out your mucous membranes, leading to dry, chapped lips, dry noses (nosebleeds), and dry throat (hoarseness, sore throat).

Long, hot showers and baths. A long hot bath or shower may sound great after being out in the cold, but the combination of hot water and soaking can strip your skin of its essential protective oils.

Harsh bar soaps. Many bar soaps, especially deodorant soaps, contain detergents that remove your skin’s natural oils, leaving it dry and more sensitive.

Being dehydrated. You might not be as thirsty in the winter as you are in the summer months when you’re hot and sweaty. However, you lose water through your skin every day, in every season. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time in dry, indoor heat.

Frequent handwashing.  We are all washing our hands more often these days to avoid spreading germs.  But this frequency of handwashing often strips the skin of oils and leads to dry, chapped hands.

Here are some simple ways to combat your dry winter skin:

  • When outdoors, wear protective clothing, gloves, and scarves to shield skin from the elements.
  • Instead of using harsh bar soaps, switch to a moisturizing, fragrance-free body wash that leaves your skin soft, not stripped.
  • Limit yourself to one 5- to -10-minute shower or bath daily.
  • Apply a rich body moisturizer immediately after showering, bathing or washing your hands.
  • Maximize the amount of moisture in your home by using a humidifier in the bedroom (where you spend most of your time).
  • Make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids in the wintertime, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which will make you lose even more water. Instead, stick to water, soup, decaf coffee and tea, and herbal tea.
  • Avoid hand sanitizers when possible because the alcohol content dries your skin.  When possible, use a moisturizing hand soap instead.

Dry skin in the winter can be very irritating. Luckily, many causes of dry skin are within our control, and with some extra effort we can alleviate the symptoms, prevent it from coming back, and help our skin look and feel healthier, softer and smoother.

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