Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tips For Soothing Irritated, Dry Skin

After spending these past few months mostly indoors during very cold winter temperatures, it can take a toll on our skin. Some of us who live in very cold climates experience our share of itchy, irritated skin during this time period. It seems no matter what we do, our skin at some point will begin to get flaky, dry, itchy and for some we may even experience cracked skin and / or fungal infections due to heavier clothing being worn trapping perspiration against our skin. Our skin is also our largest organ and requires the most care in order for it to last for our lifetime.

Forced air heating is not the greatest for keeping our skin in good condition either. I personally struggle with dry feet and hands along with flaky skin on my extremities. My back in particular can drive me insane due to the dry itch I get since this is a tough area to reach with my moisturizer. I keep the old back scratcher handy since these itchy attacks hit me during the middle of the night.

Especially as we mature our skin becomes thinner and our age can be reflected in our skin during this time of year. Dry skin enhances fine lines and wrinkles.

Here are some things you can do to keep the irritation down to a minimum until our warmer weather comes around again, and return that youthful healthy glow we all know and love to our faces and body once again. Oh how I miss my trips to warm tropical climates since my skin begins to heal and feels wonderful as soon as I step off the plane. (daydreaming) But I digress!

Despite what you may think, absolutely be sure to bathe daily since this will bring added moisture to the skin, just follow these guidelines.

Only bathe for 5-10 minutes in a lukewarm bath or shower. The longer you spend in a shower especially with hot water, the drier the skin becomes as it begins to strip your skins' natural oils. Men especially will spend long periods of time just letting the hot water run over their aching muscles, my husband included. Men may have a thicker dermis layer than women, but their skin is not impervious to damage or aging caused by stripping the oils from their skin.

Hot tubs and jacuzzis, although therapeutic for our muscles and our mind, they are extremely damaging to our skin due to the extreme in temperature which is borderline scalding. Your skin will truly suffer from this intense heat. And itchy skin...oh boy watch out!

If you must do something for tired, achy muscles then a moist air or steam sauna can do the trick. This treatment can be beneficial to the skin as a substitute for a jacuzzi. It will open the pores, detoxify the skin, and intense moisture can flood the skin, making it more supple and your cream or lotion will penetrate more deeply for the ultimate in moisture care of winter skin.

Use a mild cleanser or natural soap bar. Those with fragrances and alcohols will definitely dry out skin. Deodorant bars are the worst for drying out skin and can be quite irritating. Natural bar soaps used on the skin are excellent for moisturizing skins delicate mantle due to their natural glycerin and saponified oil content. Body butters are also wonderful to use during your shower since these are full of natural rich butters that work well on extremely dry skin. Shea and Mango butters are moisture rich and work wonders on ashy, flaky, dry, cracked, inflamed skin. Their healing properties are extraordinary. Body scrubs are excellent for exfoliating dry dead skin cells and restoring oils to the skin. Just make sure that the scrub portion is in the form of sugar and not salt since salt is very drying to the skin. Avoid body brushes and loofas since these will further irritate already delicate skin despite the relief they bring to scratching that itch.

Blot the skin dry, don't rub since this can further irritate itchy, dry skin. Plus through blotting instead of wiping, the body butters used will remain on the skin and will prevent further dryness.

When applying additional moisture, be sure to do it while the skin is still moist, typically within a few minutes of getting out of the shower. Best results for absorption of moisture is by closing the door during your shower or bath since this will trap the humidity in the room helping to provide continued moisture to the skin until you can slather your favorite cream or lotion all over your body. For reaching your back, they now have bath tools you can use and are found at a bath and body store. Or for best results and perhaps more fun, have your sweetie help you out.

Avoid high concentrations of AHA and BHA creams since these are extremely irritating and drying to the skin during this time of year.

Moisturizing daily and also before going to bed at night will surely assist with keeping the skin free from irritation. Consistent use of moisturizers will keep dry, flaky skin from returning.

For those with cracked feet, like me, pay special attention to these areas. I usually use a heavy moisturizing Shea butter cream and then wrap my feet in socks before going to bed. Lovely smooth feet are a result within a weeks time of this treatment.

Selecting a good moisturizer: Try to pay attention to the ingredients. Natural oils and butters are exceptional for delivery of essential moisture for parched skin. A product containing Aloe is excellent for soothing irritated skin and the results are nothing short of amazing. Also a body cream moisturizer that contains natural humectants to draw moisture from the air are imperative for keeping the skin from drying out throughout the day. Our Grecian Secret Body Souffle with essential oils is perfect for providing excellent skincare for severe dryness. Great ingredients for increasing moisture are Olive Oil, Vegetable Glycerin and Honey are known to work as natural humectants. Hyaluronic Acid is known for pulling moisture from the air and this ingredient occurs naturally within our skin. However this diminishes as we age so supplementation is necessary to receive the same benefits it provides.

Using a humidifier at night while you sleep is not only soothing for a peaceful sleep, but will add extra moisture to your skin throughout the night. It also makes for easier breathing for those of us who have a mild form of asthma.

Also avoid wearing sweaters or any clothing that is fabricated from wool or other rough material since these will wreak havoc on already itchy, irritated skin.

Spotting A Fungus: If you feel an itchy spot coming on, go get your moisturizer and avoid scratching if you can since this can break open the skin and perhaps cause a fungal infection. Typically this occurs when we scratch an area on our skin that is in a fold of our body such as behind our knees, maybe after shaving our legs, or in the crook of our elbow. Or for some of us this may be in a fold of skin from sitting such as on our stomachs or at a bra line for ladies. Once the skin is opened, trapped moisture, no air circulation, and warmth become the perfect breeding ground for many fungal types of infections to take hold. Ringworm for one! Usually a fungus is noticeable when you develop a red circular patch, perhaps raised as well, and doesn't seem to resolve with cortisone which only seems to help with the itchiness yet the spot remains.

An OTC fungal cream will work well. When I get an occasional fungal infection, I found Lotrimin to be excellent for resolving the problem. Just make sure you use the recommended dosage since fungal infections can be difficult to resolve and can return if you stop the treatment prematurely, even if the area looks healed.

For Hand Care: Pay special attention to your hands especially if washing them often or working in the yard. Don't scrimp on washing your hands due to worry of dry skin since you very much want to still protect yourself from viruses and bacteria. When going out in the cold, always wear gloves. And if you suffer from cracked fingers, similar treatment for the feet will work wonders. Apply the heavy moisturizer and then cover hands with gloves before going to bed. The results are baby soft hands once again. Also keep your hands protected with rubber gloves when using cleaning products around the house.

Don't forget to keep emollient rich lip balms or lip colors on the mouth for prevention of cracked, dried lips. Allowing the lips to dry out can be a painful proposition. Not only can they crack, but they can bleed. And baby those occasional fever blisters or cold sores we all get, make sure they are always kept moist while healing, since the cold air can make these suckers worse.

Time To See The Dermatologist: When you have a skin condition that simply won't clear up no matter what you do then it is possibly time to see the dermo. A fungal infection that won't clear up with OTC treatment or in some cases, especially in an older individual, it could be eczema that is afflicting the skin. This can only be determined by your doctor since it may be the underlying cause for severe dry skin. Medical treatment in this instance will be required and only your doctor can know what will be the best treatment.

So be kind and gentle to your skin and your skin will be kind to you.

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