Just like you Winterize your home or car, your skin needs a bit of care during the cold, dry winter weather. This is especially important for people with Eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis. Here are some great tips to pamper your skin through the roughest winter.
Follow the 3-Minute Rule. Bathe or shower daily for 10-15 minutes. This is the opportunity to hydrate your skin. Rinse well. Immediately after turning the water off, you have 3 minutes to (1) pat dry and (2) to apply a thick moisturizer to all skin (from head to toes). By doing this within 3 minutes, you are sealing in all the water to keep your skin moisturized for hours. If you wait longer than 3 minutes, the water you just gained from the bath will evaporate off your skin, taking more moisture with it, leading to more dryness.
Choose gentle cleansers. With the brisk weather and dry humidity, we need to be extra gentle to our skin. Only use a nondrying, gentle moisturizing cleanser and rinse well. Harsh soaps will cause more dryness and irritation. Good examples of a gentle cleanser are Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, and Dove Sensitive Skin to name a few.
Choose thick emollient moisturizers. In the wintertime, thicker and greasier moisturizers work better. Thicker petrolatum based creams seal water in the skin, trapping it there to moisturize your skin for hours. Lotions are thinner and don’t work as well to seal in the moisture. A few examples of thick moisturizers are Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, CeraVe Cream, Vanicream, Aquaphor, or plain Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Use these twice a day to provide protection all day long and to prevent problems do to dry skin.
Keep those exposed areas protected. Areas that are always exposed will be more prone to problems due to harsh cold and dry weather. Use heavier creams on the face and the hands. Face: For the face, use thicker oil free moisturizers. If your skin is severely dry, use plain Vaseline to moisturize damp skin at night. Remember to use sunblock also. Although the weather is colder, you can still sunburn. If you are around water or snow, you are exposed to the sun that shines directly on you and from the sun that bounces off water and snow, putting you at more risk of sunburning. Hands: For the hands, avoid antibacterial gels and soaps. Use gentle cleansers and friction when washing the hands to remove bacteria. Choose hand creams that last longer such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, Vaniply, and Theraplex Emollient. Wear gloves to protect your hands from chapping and to help seal the moisturizer into the skin.
Don’t forget your lips. More people tend to lick their lips in the wintertime due to dryness. Overtime, lips become chapped from saliva evaporating off the lips, drawing more moisture away. Choose a thick moisturizing lip balm such as Moisturizing Chapstick, Blistex, Burt’s Bees, Vaseline or Aquaphor and apply these often. And if you accidentally lick your lips, follow up by greasing up again.
Warming up. Those things that help keep us warm in the winter can also cause issues. Home: Turning on the heat indoors dries out the air in your house. Therefore, your outside environment is dry as well as the comfort of your own home. You can remedy this by following the 3-minute rule above, by using a humidifier indoors, or even with the use of indoor water fountains. Car: Careful that your car heater is not pointed directly at your face or your feet. These areas can get easily over irritated and over dry causing you to itch in these areas. The car seat heater can also trigger irritation of the skin on your back and your bottom. Other heat: Heating pads and positioning yourself too close to a portable heater can also irritate your skin. Provide extra protection to these areas.
Basic skin care, as above, and moisturizing at least twice a day (and as many times as needed) can prevent many problems encountered as wintertime approaches.