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Tue, Sept. 17

What to do when dry winter skin has you itching for relief

Wintertime brings cool, crisp temperatures and, with it, something else: dry skin. Cranking up the heat indoors can deplete the moisture content of your skin, which can lead to dry, itchy skin, also known as "winter itch."

Dry skin can occur at any age and in people with or without other skin conditions. The tell-tale signs include visible lines on the skin - most often on the extremities - as well as skin that feels rough and appears dull.

Are you battling dry skin this winter? Here are some tips to help you find relief:

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The moisturizer you use in spring and summer may not be enough to fight dry skin during colder months. For wintertime, choose an oil-based moisturizer that will create a protective layer on your skin. Adding a few drops of body oil to your bath also may help. The best time to moisturize is right after taking a shower or bath.

2. Watch your water temperature. As good as that hot shower or bath may feel on a chilly winter day, it can dry your skin. You're better off taking a lukewarm shower or bath in the winter.

3. Hook up the humidifier. A humidifier can help counteract the drying effects of heated air by adding moisture to the air throughout your home.

4. Don't skimp on sunscreen. Although many people associate sunscreen with summertime, the winter sun and brisk wind also can damage and dry your skin. Apply sunscreen before you leave the house and reapply it every two hours if you're planning to stay outside for a long period of time.

5. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help both your skin and your body stay hydrated. Also, be sure to control your caffeine intake. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda can dehydrate you, robbing your skin of needed moisture.

6. Forego the fragrances. Avoid using scented skin products in winter. The chemicals used to create these scents can aggravate dry skin, making it even more uncomfortable.

If you have a severe case of winter itch, it's best to seek professional attention. Make an appointment with your physician if your dry skin itches so much that it prevents you from sleeping or if it causes open cuts.

Dry skin and cooler temperatures go hand in hand, but there are ways to winterize your skin and keep it healthy for the warmer days ahead.

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