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Winter Skin Care

Cold winter weather can cause a person’s skin to become dry, but taking some precautions can make a difference.

Many people suffer from very dry skin during the winter as a result of cold, dry weather outside and a lack of humidity inside.  A person’s skin doesn’t have enough of a natural coating of oil to seal in the moisture and protect against the dryness says Dr. Stephen Stone, professor of dermatology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He explains the areas that are most affected.

“For the most part, the areas that are exposed to the air.  And the best way to determine that is the ones that are exposed to eyes – the face, the hands, the arms. Interestingly, the legs, even in men who men who wear trousers, often dry out quite a bit more.” 

Dr. Stone says another cause of dry skin in winter is taking long, hot showers or baths. Although the heat of the water feels good at the moment, it actually damages the skin by taking away the body’s own oil. This is especially damaging to older people because their oil glands produce less than when they were younger. He explains the best way to prevent the skin from drying.

“Number one, you can reduce bathing.  Most of us bathe too often.  ... Number two, is using less drying soaps in the shower.  Now there are some very good bar soaps that do moisturize the skin.  I happen to prefer to recommend some of the liquid soaps that moisturize the skin, and there is a whole variety of many of them on the market.  Finally, moisturizing the skin after the bathing occurs ...”

Dr. Stone recommends seeing a family physician or dermatologist if a person’s skin has areas of redness or if a person is scratching to the point of the skin bleeding.  If the skin is red or inflamed, a person could be suffering from eczema or psoriasis, which may need to be treated with prescription medication.

Ruth Slottag