When Mother Nature takes a chill pill our skins often react by becoming flaky and itchy. The epidermis loses more moisture when the humidity is low and the temperatures are low. This in turn encourages excess exfoliation, which is the most common cause of itchy skin. If you’re loaded with DNA from ancestors who inhabited northern and polar climes, you may find that dry itchy skin is not as much of a problem as it is for those whose DNA includes a healthy chunk of tropical or sub-tropical ancestors. Still, just about everyone experiences some level of discomfort during the winter from having to deal with continuous itching and unsightly reddening and flaking of the skin — especially on the arms, the scalp, and the chest. Feet are also prone to acting up in the winter, reacting badly to being cooped up in wool socks for most of the day.
One thing to be aware of, according to skin care experts at Derm Medica, is being able to differentiate between simple dry, itchy skin, and something more serious like ringworm or eczema. There are microbes floating around in the air that can land on your skin and cause bad rashes and itching, such as ringworm, and when chemical imbalances occur within the body they are reflected in the epidermis with diseases like eczema. So wash your hands frequently, never wear someone else’s cap, and try to avoid as much as possible the stresses that inevitably come during the Holidays. Stress tends to lower our immune system response time, allowing all sorts of baddies to get a head start on making us ill. If your skin becomes bright red and/or you notice tiny, bloody, pustules, along with a really uncontrollable urge to scratch, you have probably contracted a heavy duty skin problem that needs to be seen by a medical professional and not left to over the counter skin creams.
With the increasing interest in organic, ‘green’ fibers, natural unprocessed wool is becoming very popular in winter wear. But there is a downside to this popularity. Unprocessed wool contains chemicals and fats that protected the wool when the sheep wore it — now that you’re wearing it, you may find that these substances can trigger mild allergic reactions, such as flaking and itching skin. If you suspect this, try switching to some other material for a while during the winter to see if your itch and flaking lessen. If they do, well, you may have to become a little less ‘green’ in order not to get any more red.
Try to minimize showering to once a day. And if you just have to shower more than once a day, try taking the second shower without using any soap. Soap not only washes away dirt, but also strips the skin of its protective oily layer, leaving the skin cells more exposed to the dry air — which can cause them to lose moisture and shrink, and then begin to itch.
Over the counter moisturizing lotions come in all sorts of varieties, but the only ingredients that have been clinically proven to help your skin retain moisture are lanolin, glycerin, paraffin, bees wax, and the commercial butters of coconut, cocoa bean, and the shea nut. Pretty much everything else contained in moisturizing lotion is just window dressing or perfume. So before you pay for an overpriced brand name of moisturizer, compare the ingredients with brand X — you may find you can pay half the price for better results!