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Protect your skin during the winter months

By Dr. David Nelsen
Board Certified Dermatology, Mercyhealth East

It’s that time of the year again, the time when we turn the thermostats up and the humidity goes down. The cold temperatures, dry air, age-related skin dryness and even medications can combine for the perfect storm to cause dry, itchy skin.

There are some simple steps you can take to help. First, take a daily, short, warm shower or bath. Keeping bathing to 10 minutes or less and avoiding hot water will help retain the skin’s natural oils and moisture. Use soap only where you really need it and make sure to use a gentle moisturizing bar soap like Dove for Sensitive Skin or Vanicream. Avoid body washes as they contain lathering agents that can irritate sensitive skin. Further, avoid rough bath puffs and bath brushes, and instead use just your fingers or a soft washcloth. After getting out of the bath or shower, pat the skin dry and immediately apply a thick moisturizer while the skin is still damp. This will help lock-in the moisture added to the skin while bathing. Avoid scented soaps, moisturizers, or other perfumes/colognes on the dry skin areas as this may add to the skin irritation. Also, make sure to stay well hydrated, but drinking too much water won’t help and will just lead to more frequent trips to the restroom. Lastly, if you are getting static electricity shocks around the house, that may indicate that the air in your home is too dry. Consider using a cool mist humidifier to keep the humidity in your home between 45 and 60 percent. If you follow all of these steps and you still have dry skin, red flaky skin, or any open wounds from scratching, then it may be time to make an appointment to see your primary doctor or a dermatologist.

To make an appointment with Dr. Nelsen, please call (608) 756-7100.

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