Combating dry skin

December 3, 2008 5:27:30 PM PST
We know winter brings the cold and snow. It can also bring dry, itchy skin. So what can you do to keep your skin soft this season?Deanna Lee deals with cold weather with a little difficulty. Since childhood, she had occasional dry skin, but a few years ago things changed.

"My face gets more dry," she said. "I use extra moisturizer, and the last few years I have a rash which develops, and it just itches like the dickens."

So Deanna follows Dr. Libby Buscemi's advice and uses over-the-counter moisturizers. Eucerin is one of the oldest and best known. Dr. Buscemi also likes a moisturizer called Cereve, which replaces some of the fatty substances which keep the skin moist.

In cold weather, the oil secreted by oil glands in the skin helps keep moisture in, but washing with soap removes the oils so the moisture escapes and the skin dries out.

Dr. Buscemi's suggestions to patients on how to avoid removing too much of the skin's protection: "Shorter showers, gentle soaps, lukewarm water, and they should hydrate. That means gently patting, not over-toweling or rubbing."

Using humidifiers to combat dry, overheated indoor air is also recommended. You don't even need fancy devices, sometimes just a throwaway aluminum pan filled with water and set on the radiator will do.

And for Deanna's problem neck rash, dermatologists have prescription creams that can reduce inflammation.

''Of course, you can just hide it," she said. "You get very self-conscious when your skin is bad, so even though I should keep the skin bare, I might wear turtlenecks, just to cover up the skin problem."

Deanna says she wears cotton turtlenecks because those made of wool and some other fabrics can be irritating to dry skin. Over-the-counter moisturizers are best used after the shower when the skin is still damp.

For more information on skin care and dry weather, visit The American Academy of Dermatology, The Mayo Clinic and The National Library of Medicine.

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STORY BY: Medical reporter Dr. Jay Adlersberg

WEB PRODUCED BY: Jeff Greene

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