Now that winter is here there are things you can do to prevent dryness, rash and itching. How often you bathe, the water temperature, the type of soap and moisturizers you use are all important’

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It functions to control body temperature, prevent water loss from the skin, and also serves as a barrier to infections.

Moisture seeps in and out of the skin depending on the relative humidity. If the relative humidity is higher than the skin’s moisture content the skin will absorb moisture from the air. If the relative humidity is lower than the skin’s moisture content, then the skin will lose moisture to the air. We use heat in the winter to keep warm. The heat dries the air and subsequently the skin. Lowering the thermostat and the use of humidifiers can help alleviate this.

How often you bathe in the winter is very important in helping to prevent dry skin. Bathing with hot water and soap removes the natural oils and moisturizing substances from the skin. If you suffer with dry skin then taking a shower or full bath, more than once a day, is not recommended. If your skin is extremely dry you should bathe even less than once a day. Taking a bath with a bath oil is better than showering all the time. Use soap formulated for dry skin and only lather the odor producing areas heavily. Dove, Caress and Tone are the soaps I recommend the most. There are other brands that are also suitable for dry skin if you like them better.

Choose an appropriate moisturizer for dry skin. The better moisturizers will usually contain glycerin or a plant-based oil. Petroleum and mineral oil are coating agents and do not moisturize, they can only help to seal in moisture. Glycerin and most plant-based oils will absorb moisture from the air. Olive oil is a good plant oil example. Pure cocoa and shea butters are plant-based products that are also useful. You should moisturize immediately after bathing while the skin is still moist.

If you itch a lot or develop a rash in the winter, consult a Dermatologist. Individuals who have eczema may have skin that is dryer than normal. Young children and senior citizens also have dryer skin.

In summary, if you have dry skin, bathe less often, use a moisturizing soap and a good moisturizer.

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