If your family is like mine, then yours also suffers from dry, itchy skin in winter. It’s definitely not comfortable nor beautiful and it seems to last forever (much like our lovely Canadian winters). But the suffering stops now. Here are some simple tips for preventing and relieving dry, itchy skin.
Also known as retinol, vitamin A encourages the rejuvenation of skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, (and vitamin D as well), the skin becomes dry and rough. The best sources of vitamin A are liver and kidneys, but if the thought of eating either initiates your gag reflex, then try a cod liver oil supplement. Not only is cod liver oil rich in vitamin A and D, it’s also high in fatty acids, essential for beautiful skin.
We know that fatty acids do a body good all year round, but you may want to try increasing your consumption during the winter months. Foods like walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can all help skin cells stay hydrated. Consider adding more olive oil to salads, using ground flax seed in baked goods, taking a fish oil or cod liver oil supplement in addition to eating salmon, and adding chopped walnuts to cereals and oatmeal.
If you are prone to itchy winter skin, never take a bubble bath (kids included!) or sit in a bathtub of soapy water. This will dry out and irritate your skin like nothing else. Instead, use soap or cleansers sparingly and wash them off quickly and thoroughly every time. City water is full of chlorine, which is very drying to the skin, so consider purchasing a chlorine filter for your shower and bath. And lastly, always moisturize immediately, especially after hand washing, to lock in moisture. This is a critical step for those seeking relief from itchy skin, especially in winter.
Wear gloves inside. Yes, I’m serious! Wear gloves to do the dishes and wear gloves to bed. Kids can wear mittens if they prefer. Our hands dry out much quicker than any other part of our bodies because they are constantly exposed to irritants. Moisturize hands thoroughly just before bedtime and cover them with cotton or bamboo gloves (even socks work). This works well for kids too, if they’ll keep the gloves on all night.
Aside from hands, our cheeks, especially kids’ cheeks, take a beating all winter long because they’re usually exposed to the cold, windy, winter air. So before heading outdoors, cover up those cheeks with a thick balm or ointment. Using a balm or ointment is better than a cream since they absorb slowly and will do double duty as a moisturizer and a protective barrier.
Dry heat and low humidity levels quite literally suck the moisture right out of you. Since we spend most of our time at home sleeping, I recommend focusing on cutting dryness and increasing humidity in the bedrooms. If allergies and asthma aren’t a concern, you can try a humidifier, but use caution as humidifiers are notorious for growing mold. Adding a few houseplants will help increase humidity, as will placing bowls of water on top of radiators or in front of central heat vents. Just remember to change the water and bowl daily to prevent bacteria from growing.