Expert advice on how to combat dry skin during the brutal cold

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The single digit temperatures we’ve known all too well this month can wreak havoc on your skin. And outdoor air is not the only cause of the seasonal frustration of dry skin, even the air inside our homes will do it.

If you haven’t experienced it, you are surely one of the lucky ones.

The recent bitter cold in Indiana can leave someone with even the healthiest skin instead dry, itchy, and sometimes even cracked. That’s because the harsh conditions outside strip your skin of its natural oils.

Also inside, our heated homes have an average humidity level of just 13 to 15 percent. To put that in perspective, the relative humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25 percent.

IU Health dermatologist Melanie Kingsley said dry skin is not only unattractive and uncomfortable, but it’s also a health risk.

“The paper cuts, little scrapes come along easier and in turn you can get infections into those paper cuts a little easier too. You’re breaking down that nice healthy barrier we have to prevent the external environment from coming in,” Dr. Kingsley said.

If you’re dealing with dry skin, experts say prevention and protection is key.

Dr. Kingsley suggests you start by looking at your bathing routine. She provides the following tips:

  • In the shower make sure you’re using a product that moisturizes your skin with luke warm water. Don’t use hot water, because it will also strip away natural oils.
  • When you’re done in the shower, moisturize within one minute, even if you are still a little damp.
  • Keep products next to your bed to apply to hands, feet, and other dry areas before sleeping. You can always put socks or gloves on after moisturizing to turn things around more quickly.

Dr. Kingsley has several products she recommends to patients, including Dr. Doug’s Miracle Balm, which is made in Carmel. Others are Cetaphil Restoraderm, Aveeno, and CeraVe.

If your skin is extremely dry and you just can’t seem to turn it around, especially if you’re dealing with cracks and cuts it may be time to see a dermatologist or your family doctor to make sure you don’t need an antibiotic or a topical steroid prescription.