Outdoor exposure and frequent showering during the cold winter months can dry and crack the skin.
Antibacterial soaps have become a staple of many a household in recent years, but their use during the winter months can cause more harm than good. These soaps, which may be fine in the dripping humidity of August, begin to strip the skin of essential oils during the winter, dermatologists say. “Antibacterials have a higher concentration of detergent, and the chemicals irritate the skin,” says Dr. Roy S. Roger, III, a professor of dermatology at the Mayo Medical School.
To help keep skin healthy, dermatologists emphasize the following steps:
- Use warm water for bathing instead of hot water, and take shorter and fewer showers.
- Replace regular soaps with superfatted bars containing moisturizers that are milder on the skin and don’t wash away the body’s own oils.
- After showering or bathing, pat dry with a towel to remove excess water, and be careful to leave moisture on the skin. Never rub.
- Immediately after toweling, apply a moisturizer to the skin to seal in the water. For most people, an over-the-counter lotion will suffice. For more severe cases, use a cream or ointment to treat dry skin. Petroleum jelly is an extremely effective and inexpensive moisturizer, but some people dislike the greasy feel.