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Health And Nutrition

by  Dr. Rajni Aneja

Skin Care In Winter 

Well, you have very much enjoyed the Thanksgiving and Christmas and may as well used new body lotions or creams you got as a gift, making you acknowledge winter's harsh reality of fighting with dry chapped skin. Remember, Winter weather along with indoor heating strips the skin of its natural oils and moisturizing factor for even the oiliest of skin types. And sometimes we worsen the condition of winter-dry skin by bathing and showering in water that's too hot and for too long and not Exfoliating. Which means, removing the dead skin cell layer or replenish the skin with oil and moisture. Many of the dry skin conditions that victimize us in the winter can be alleviated when a few simple skin care tips are followed. Here are few great tips to provide TLC to your skin and say Aloha to chapped, rough, itchy winter hands and lips: 

  • Take short baths: Five to ten minutes per day is enough to cleanse and hydrate without losing your body's natural oils. Although the hot water may feel great, it can aggravate already dry skin. So, stick with warm water. Better idea is to soak in lukewarm water for 5-10 min. Avoid Hot water altogether, which may turn your skin red and makes it drier. 

  • Moisturize: Follow each bath with a moisturizer, as this is what holds the water in. Moisturize within three minutes of getting out of the shower, after this time your skin starts to lose its moisture. 

  • Dry yourself damp: It's much more effective to apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after bathing than to put it on totally dry skin. So just pat your body couple of times with dry towel and you are ready to apply the lotion. The concept is to trap the water in the skin, which is the essential rule of fighting off dryness and itchiness. Apply a generous coat of cream to your legs, arms and glutes first, where dryness sets in most quickly, and then move on to your face.

  • Sunscreen: No skin care tips can ever be completed without discussing the importance of applying sunscreen. Use it through out the year if you want to avoid wrinkles as well as dry skin. In addition, wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes. Humidifier Helps: Plug in the humidifier when you're at home. This helps bring moisture back into the air. Dry heat in wintertime is responsible to a great extent causing dry skin and itching. Furnace-heated air can reduce the humidity level inside your house to 10 percent or less, whereas 30 to 40 percent is closer to ideal for keeping moisture in your skin. For that reason, we do recommend the use of humidifiers during those dry winter months, but remember: It's important to clean your filter regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria. Keep it cool. One sensible way to combat winter itch is as easy as reaching for your thermostat and turning it down. Keeping your house on the cool side will make your skin feel good and there will be less itchiness. Protective Measures: Use Gloves whenever you go out in cold weather, as it is the main cause of dry hand and can also lead to dry brittle nails and ragged cuticles. It is always a good idea to use creams that are specifically designed for hands to provide protection and moisture, as the skin on your hands is relatively thin compared to body. Olive oil is a good home remedy to restore luster and shining in dull nails just by massaging few drops onto nails and buff well with a tissue. Avoid products that contain alcohol as it sucks the moisture out of skin. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration.

  • Lips: Applying a moisturizing balm to your lips before you go to bed will help keep them soft and smooth. It will also help heal them if they've been sunburned from skiing or wind-whipped after a day outside. A good lip balm should provide you with protection and moisture. Always use a lip balm with SPF. If you develop dry and itchy skin or eczema, don't let the condition get worse, always consult a Doctor. 

(Dr. Rajni Aneja, member at-large of Indian Medical Association of New England, is a board Certified Family physician whose special interests include women's health, preventive medicine and community medicine. )

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