Dr. Corina Kibsey
How to avoid the scaly crocodile look this winter
Updated: May 7, 2019
Winter is coming. Some of us could tell you that without seeing any snow or looking at a calendar. Because we can feel it in our skin. If you suffer from dry skin in winter, you know exactly what I'm talking about. As soon as the dry weather hits, your skin starts to get tight, rough, red, and flaky. I happen to be in the dry skin club myself, so I know what you're going through. Dry skin can not only be uncomfortable, but also embarrassing. It can even interfere with daily activities.
I can remember a time when my dry skin was at its worst. I was in University and volunteering at a physiotherapy clinic where I would do UltraSounds and massages for patients. The skin on my hands was so dry that it was cracked and bleeding. I remember trying to treat patients with blood running down my hands. Gross for them and embarrassing for me. Of course I used a moisturizing cream regularly, but that just wasn't cutting it. I didn't know what else to do! Now, a decade and two degrees later, I know exactly what I could have done to prevent all those dry skin woes. I can't go back in time and help young Corina out. But I can share what I've learned with you. Here is how I conquered my dry skin naturally.
If you are only going to do one thing on this whole list, let it be this: take your omega-3's! I know, I know. It can seem a little strange to take something internally for an external organ. But skin needs to be treated from the inside out. Taking omega-3 supplements was definitely the change I made that had the biggest impact on my skin health. In fact, if I run out of my omega-3 supplements I notice an increase in skin dryness within just a few days. Speak to your naturopathic doctor and see if an omega-3 supplement is appropriate for you.
Treat from the inside with omega-3's, and from the outside using a topical moisturizer. One option is to use aloe vera gel. We typically think of this as a treatment for sunburns, but think about the last time you used aloe vera. Did it soothe and moisturize your skin? I bet it did! That's why it's also a great choice for dry skin in winter. Keep it on your counter all year round, not just during beach season! Another option is calendula oil. This is especially great for dry skin that is also flaky.
Use a humidifier
Dry skin happens because of dry weather. We can't control the weather, but we can increase humidity in our home. There are tons of different humidifiers out there on the market. Keep one in your bedroom and turn it on while you sleep. This will get you 7-8 hours of humidity each night that you otherwise wouldn't get in winter. Your skin will thank you!
Change your laundry detergent
Skin that is already dry and itchy is even more vulnerable to certain irritants. Laundry detergent is one of them. Try using a hypoallergenic detergent. It's much easier on the skin. This will help prevent your skin from becoming even more irritated than it already is.
Limit shower time
Hot water dries out the skin. This is why you should try to keep showers to 5-10 minutes max. It's also better to use warm water as opposed to hot. Yes, I realize that I'm suggesting you take cooler showers during the coldest time of the year. But it will honestly help your skin from drying out too much. Mother Nature can be cruel that way.
Putting on gloves before you head outdoors will help stave off some of the dryness. It also helps if you wear gloves for activities that get your hands wet (i.e. washing dishes). If you inevitably do get wet from washing your hands or showering, it's important to apply moisturizer right away. This is because moisturizer works by trapping moisture that's already on the skin. A good tip is to keep a travel size moisturizer with you and use it after each time you wash your hands.
I've tried all this, but I still have dry skin! What do I do?
If you've tried all the tips above and still have dry skin, it's important that you see a healthcare professional. It may be more than the harsh winter weather. Stubbornly dry skin could be a result of eczema, psoriasis, or even hypothyroidism.
If you would like to discuss specific moisturizing products or supplements for dry skin, book an appointment with Dr. Kibsey, ND today.
Image courtesy of:Nick Karvounis