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From The Doctors

Preventing chapped, dry skin in the cold

April 05, 2017

dry skin

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: days filled with red, raw and dry skin that a moisturizer just can’t touch. You’ve taken to sleeping with socks on your hands and have seriously contemplated dipping your extremities in whatever they froze Han Solo in, hoping you can just make it stop.

The winter weather in the Chicago area can be bitterly cold and almost moisture-free. This combination—although great for a martini—means dry, chapped skin on the hands and face that is no laughing matter. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to deal with the problem. Here are a few of the most effective:

Wash with the proper soap
Most people don’t realize there is a wide diversity in hand soaps. That bar of Irish Spring may leave you clean as a whistle, but it could do some serious damage to your special snowflake skin. Some soaps are manufactured with chemicals—mostly for fragrance and feel—that will irritate sensitive skin. Unless you’re a garage mechanic who needs to remove layers of grease, these “harsh” soaps should be avoided in most cases. Instead, use a mild soap that contains vegetable or herbal oils, aloe vera or witch hazel, and rosemary or peppermint.

Always dry your hands thoroughly
After washing, it is essential to thoroughly dry your hands for two reasons. First, in areas where minor cracking has already developed, water can gather and exacerbate the situation. Second, even a light wind in cold weather conditions can cause damage to your skin. This advice also pertains when you clean the dishes or mop up a spill—who wants to walk around with wet hands anyway? Gross. Also consider wearing rubber gloves while performing those chores. Dishpan hands are not sexy.

Wear gloves or mittens outdoors
Living in Chicago means you’ll have to go outside in the cold and snow at some point. You can’t Amazon Prime everything, you know. When you go outside, protecting your hands from the elements is essential if you want to prevent chapping. In particular, when it is sleeting or snowing, it is quite easy for moisture to accumulate on exposed skin. This is true even if you are performing such seemingly quick tasks as clearing a windshield or throwing a snowball. Or carrying a bottle of wine in one hand and your iPhone in the other on your way to your Uber.

Regularly use a moisturizing cream
Slathering on a moisturizing cream will help retain fluids and also facilitate the healing process. Use it twice a day while out and about and then once more at bedtime. For a spa-like intensive moisture treatment, completely coat your hands— including the backs and in between the fingers—and then wear a pair of light cotton gloves to really seal in the moisture. Your Candy Crush game will have to wait, but it will be worth it.

For more information on preventing dry skin while you wait for the spring thaw and more decent weather, please visit us at Innovative Express Care or contact our healthcare specialists directly at 773-270-5600 with any specific questions. Alternatively you can click here to immediately book an appointment. Stay warm!

Image Source: Katie Tegtmeyer

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