(BPT) - As the largest organ of the body, the skin should be well cared for and protected. Winter can pose a host of challenges for those who typically experience dry skin at this time of year. Between dropping and fluctuating temperatures and low humidity, it is easy for skin to feel the negative effects of the season.
Most people experience dry skin in the winter because during this time, skin doesn’t produce enough moisture to compensate for the drier air and lack of moisture. If dry skin is neglected, it can become red, flaky and itchy. Dry skin patches can develop into a more serious inflammation called dermatitis; and once the protective skin is disrupted by dermatitis, the skin is more susceptible to bacterial, yeast or fungal infections and allergic reactions on the skin.
In spite of the harsh winter elements, this season does not have to take a toll on your skin. You can carry out a preventive skincare regimen that will help you avoid dry, cracked and uncomfortable skin. Here are some easy and effective tips to help keep your skin happy and healthy during the winter season:
— Keep bathing or showering to 10 minutes, using warm - not hot - water. Hot water can dry out your skin by allowing moisture to escape, while breaking down the lipid barriers.
— Use mild soaps or soap-free cleansers. Many soaps strip important lipids and oils from the outermost layer of skin and can often contain ingredients that are damaging to the skin.
— Avoid excessive handwashing or excessive use of hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based sanitizer in particular can be very tough on skin due to the fact that it dissolves oil, which can leave the skin feeling dry, chapped and irritable.
— Moisturize thoroughly after bathing or handwashing, while skin is wet, with an ointment, cream or lotion. Moisturizers work best when they’re applied to skin that is wet or damp. They help to seal in the moisture and keep the skin looking and feeling healthy.
“There are a good number of effective skincare products on the market to help consumers combat dry skin during this time of year,” says dermatologist Avery S. Kuflik, MD.
Other causes of dry skin at this time of year include certain fabrics commonly found in warm winter clothing, such as wool, and central heating systems found in homes, which can reduce the humidity in the air and dry out the skin. Humidifiers are useful devices to have at home because they increase moisture levels in the air, which helps the skin. They also promote a variety of other health benefits.