Cold weather skin solutions

December 1, 2008

"I notice that my skin is extremely dry. It's just normally my face and my legs," said Latanya Workman of North Philadelphia.

Michelle Beyer of South Philadelphia has a similar problem, "I have eczema usually around my eyes, on my arms and legs."

Latanya and Michelle are just 2 of the millions of people who suffer from excessive dry skin in the winter.

"The skin changes as the seasons change, and particularly in the winter, we notice that the skin becomes very dry, it becomes flaky and ashy, and it can become very itchy," said Dr. Susan Taylor from Society Hill Dermatology.

Preventative care starts in the shower. A long, hot soak feels good when it's cold outside but it actually dries out your skin.

"Limit your baths or showers to about five minutes. We want you in and out, you have to be efficient," said Dr. Taylor.

Use lukewarm water, mild cleansers and pat dry. Then slather on moisturizer.

Dr. Taylor explained, "putting that moisturizer on is going to help repair the barrier."

Look for moisturizers with the ingredients petrolatum and glycerin near the top of the list, those are what create a protective barrier.

"You should change your skin care products depending on the season."

If you change your product and you still feel dry then it's not the right product for your skin type.

Latanya's relief comes from body butter. Michelle goes a more natural route with organic creams and spa treatments.

"I usually get a facial once a month," Michelle said.

She also exfoliates once a week, which esthetician Tammi Gindle of JuJu Spa and Organics, said is crucial.

"If you have dry skin on top of dry skin you're just gonna, your follicles, your pores aren't open so water's getting trapped in there, oil's getting trapped in there."

Tammi also recommended using serums.

"Serums have smaller molecules in them so they penetrate your pores and your skin deeper, faster."

If all this adds up to more money than you want to spend, there are a few homemade remedies you can try, like powdered Ginger Root or ground oatmeal in a lukewarm bath. Or get a bottle of primrose oil capsules.

"Just a little pin prick in the capsules and you put it right on, right on the irritated area," Tammi demonstrated.

For a mixture, combine one tablespoon dry oatmeal with one tablespoon honey. Then slather that on your worst areas and sit for 30 minutes.

Or combine one tablespoon dry oatmeal with one egg white.

"Just whip that up into a nice consistency."

Coat your skin and leave on for 10 minutes.

Both Dr. Taylor and Tammi agree you should avoid any products with synthetic fragrances or alcohol in them. Plus drink plenty of water! And make sure to get a proper skin assessment from a dermatologist.

Facials can run anywhere from $40 to up to $100.

**Make sure to see your doctor if bleeding occurs or skin condition worsens**

Society Hill Dermatology
JuJu Spa and Organics

More Homemade Recipes:

Morning Skin Cleanser/Rejuvenator
Do this 15 min. before taking a shower/bath
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. olive oil
Few drops rose water
Few drops lime juice
Mix ingredients and apply to skin

Dry Skin Mask
1 egg
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. olive oil
Few drops rose water
Mix together and use as a mask

Fruit Recipe
puree 1 banana
puree 1 papaya, peach or avocado
Apply to skin for 20 min., rinse with warm water, follow with moisturizer

Saline Bath
If you have developed scales the best remedy is to take a saline bath.
Add six pounds of sodium chloride (table salt or rock salt) to 25 gallons of warm water in a tub. Soak in this water for about 15 to 20 minutes twice daily. Blot dry, then massage gently either with almond or olive oil. Take this treatment only if you are in excellent physical health.

Other Bath Remedy
Half an hour before you take your bath, massage yourself either with warm olive, mustard or coconut oil. After bathing blot yourself dry; do not rub vigorously with a bath towel.

Herbs for Dry Skin
*Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is soothing, healing, and moisturizing. It also helps to remove dead skin cells. Apply aloe vera gel topically on affected areas.
*Calendula and comfrey have skin-softening properties. They can be used in a facial sauna or to make herbal or floral waters. Comfrey also reduces redness and soothes irritated skin.
*Add 5 drops of lavender oil or oat extract to bath water. After the bath, apply diluted evening primrose oil or aloe vera cream.
*Drink teas of camomile, dandelion or peppermint.
*Borage, fennel, coltsfoot or calendula tea also helps improve the skin. Add 1 tsp. of herbs to 1 cup of boiling water and drink daily.
*Tea tree oil has been known to penetrate into the skin's cellular level. Add 1 drop of oil to your favorite day or night cream to help moisturize and smooth skin.

Herbal Facial Sauna
A weekly facial sauna using the herbs chamomile, lavender, and peppermint is good for dry skin.
Using a glass or enameled pot, simmer a total of 2 to 4 tablespoons of dried or fresh herbs in 2 quarts of water.
When the pot is steaming, place it on top of a trivet or thick potholder on a table, and sit with your face at a comfortable distance over the steam for fifteen minutes.
You can use a towel to trap the steam if you wish.
After fifteen minutes, splash your face with cold water and allow your skin to air dry or pat it dry with a towel.
Then either apply a good natural moisturizer or facial oil, or apply a clay mask.
After the sauna, you can allow the herbal water to cool and save it for use as a toning lotion to be dabbed on your face with a cotton ball after cleansing.

Other Tips:
Invest in a humidifier
Cover feet with a thick moisturizer and wrap in Saran Wrap, put a pair of socks on over that and let sit for a couple of hours
Ask your doctor about fish oil pills
Ask your doctor about prescription drugs you are taking, or some other medical issue that could be drying out your skin
Eat a balanced diet
Get plenty of sleep
Avoid wool or other scratchy clothing

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