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How to deal with dry, itchy skin

Winter is the time when many people suffer from dry, itchy skin. For some, the problem is worse than just a feeling of dry, tightness; skin can flake and crack and eczema can occur.

 

A trip to your local chemist will have you confused by the variety of products on offer, but don't be fooled into thinking that expensive ones work better. In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive product is often to cover packaging and marketing. What is more important is how the product feels on your skin and the effect it has.

Another mistake many make is to continue to use summer moisurizers in winter. The problem here is that summer moisturizers are light and usually water-based, whereas winter creams are oil-based and offer far more protection for dry skin. Look for products that contain vaseline or glycerin, as they create a barrier that helps retain your natural moisture levels.

Spoil your hands

Because the skin on your hands has fewer oil glands, it's harder to keep your hands moisturized, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.

After applying your regular hand cream, apply vaseline- or glycerin-based products, as these help to retain natural moisture in the skin.

Moisturize the atmosphere

Whereas heating dries out the air in our homes and offices. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. A small humidifier in the bedroom will disperse moisture and prevent that feeling of dryness.

Bathe and exfoliate

Keep hot baths and showers down to a minimum, as the heat breaks down the natural fats in the skin and can exacerbate a dry skin problem.

Rather have a warm bath or shower if you suffer from dry, itchy skin.

Take the time to exfoliate as you bathe to remove any dead skin, particularly on the feet, as this blocks the penetration of moisturizing products.

After bathing, dab dry with a soft towel and immediately apply moisturizer to your skin. Moisturizers are not formulated to add moisture, but rather trap your natural oils and when applied regularly, moisturizers help decrease dryness and itching.

Choose soaps that are fragrance-free and that moisturize and protect your skin.

Face first

If you suffer from dry, tight skin on your face, avoid using harsh facial products that contain alcohol. These products strip essential oils from your skin and speed up that tight, dry feeling.

In the winter rather opt for a mild cleansing milk or alcohol-free toner that are hydrating and tend to draw moisture out rather than remove oils.

And finally, a visit to a dermatologist - even once - is good advice if you suffer from constant itching or eczema. They will be able to offer advice on the skin care products you should avoid and the right products for your skin type.