During the cool winter months, as we spend more time indoors and turn up the heat, the dry air can wreak havoc on sensitive skin. Right now, all the necessary handwashing is also hard on our hands. Here are a few tips to get you through the winter more comfortably.
- Avoid long, hot baths and showers. Keep these comfortably warm, and under 10 minutes. Use a gentle unscented wash for sensitive skin, such as Dove bar for sensitive skin or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar. Bars generally have fewer preservatives than liquid washes. Only use a cleanser on areas that need it: arms, legs and backs don’t need to be lathered up every day.
- Moisturize! Applying a moisturizer helps to restore the barrier function of skin. Stick to an unscented product, and apply right after bath or shower time, when skin is still slightly damp.
- Choose hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based sanitizers are actually more gentle on skin than soap and water, so use these whenever hands are not visibly soiled. Also, keep moisturizing your hands throughout the day.
- Dress in soft, comfortable clothing. Wool contains lanolin, a wool alcohol that can irritate sensitive skin, so if your skin reacts to wool it is best avoided. If you have dermatitis or sensitive skin, cotton and breathable fabrics are preferred.
- Don’t blame your diet. Food is probably not the cause of dry or sensitive skin. The best scientific evidence to date suggests that diet rarely, if ever, plays a role in eczema or sensitive skin. So don’t worry too much about avoiding certain food groups. However, if there are foods that repeatedly cause your skin to flare, it is only reasonable to avoid these.
- Keep fingernails short! Scratching can damage skin and worsen itching. Short fingernails do the least damage so check these every few days, especially for eczema-prone kids.
For some eczema-prone individuals, these preventive measures are not enough. If this is the case, prescription medications may be necessary. Speak to your doctor if this is the case for you.
This article is intended to provide general information and is not intended as a substitute for assessment and care from your doctor.