With the dry air and biting cold winds, your skin can quickly loose moisture and heat when exposed to winter elements. Protecting your skin from head to toe is essential to avoiding cracking, itching and soreness.
First rule of thumb—slather it on! Moisturizers (topical emollients) are essential for use in the winter months. Often, your ‘go to’ summer lotion may not be quite enough for the losses your skin experiences during colder weather. Look for ointment-based or cream-based moisturizers, rather than water based ones. Typically, you will find these products in tubs and tubes, rather than in the pump dispensers because of their thicker consistency. Work with your child in choosing this product. Some children and teens dislike the ‘sticky’ feeling these products can give, so buy smaller trial size tubes and let your child help you decide which feels best. When looking for products to apply to the face, especially for acne prone teens, look for one with ‘non-comedogenic’ on the label. This means the oils are ‘non-clogging’ of the pores.
Use a moisturizer head to toe at least once, and ideally twice, per day. Often children with irritated skin complain that moisturizers ‘burn’ when first applied. To ease this, look for a product which has the fewest alcohols listed in the ingredients. Often ointments are better tolerated. Bedtime is a great time to apply your emollient, but if you find that is not enough, help your child apply before getting dressed in the morning, as well.
What about those hot showers or long luxurious warm baths? Dermatologists say that bathing daily is fine, just be mindful of the temperature of the water and shorten up those soaking sessions. Remember the ‘three minute rule’. That is, within three minutes of getting out of a shower or bath, apply your topical emollient However, who wants to get out of the warm shower into the cold bathroom to then slather cold creams or lotions on your already shivering body? Try taking the jar or tube (top on!) to the shower with you. After your shower, turn off the water, slick the water off your body with your hand or grab a towel to pat dry. Then, without leaving your warm shower stall, immediately apply your lotion all over. You will find the warm lotion much better tolerated! Be sure to store it outside of your shower or tub, however, bringing it in with you each time.
While in the tub or shower, remember that water is all that is needed to remove most sweat and dirt. Many soaps remove oil from the skin. For dry, sensitive skin, dermatologist recommend bar soap made for sensitive skin, liquid washes that don’t lather or a gentle, foaming cleanser. Avoid perfumes in your body washes.
Hands and feet need special care in the winter. As we are reminding our children to wash those hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs, we need to remind them to apply hand cream immediately after handwashing, as well. Stock your sinks with moisturizing soap and tubes of hand cream. Remember that antibacterial soaps have no advantage over other soaps when handwashing is done properly and they may be more drying. Cover those hands with warm gloves or mittens whenever you or your child ventures outside. Change out of gloves as soon as they are wet to avoid chapping and redness. For feet, a thick layer of ointment and warm socks should be applied nightly. Try not to allow your child to be barefoot in the house during the winter. Look for socks with grippers or ‘no slip’ slippers to protect those tender tootsies.
Following a consistent skin care regimen will keep your skin and your families skin looking and feeling great all winter long. Let it snow, our skin will be winter ready!