Dry winter air means dry winter skin. And for older adults, it can be much more than a nuisance.
Skin becomes thinner as we age, making it more fragile and more susceptible to problems caused by lack of moisture. Chapped lips, cracked heels and elbows, and dry, sore hands can become itchy, painful and even dangerous if cracks become infected.
Barring a trip to a tropical paradise, there’s no escaping the effects of winter. But a little extra TLC can help us all weather the wait for spring
1. Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize.
What winter has taken away, we must replace. Apply a heavy cream or body butter just after showering or bathing. Then immediately get dressed. The clothing helps to “hold in” the moisture.
Reapply as need throughout the day, especially to hands, feet and elbows.
2. Drink up!
Moisturize from the inside by staying hydrated with at least eight glasses of water or other healthy beverages every day.
Try hot herbal tea to warm you on the inside while helping to moisturize your outside.
3. Short but sweet
This is the rule for winter showers. That warm water might feel like a welcome escape from the cold, but it’s no friend to your skin. Hot water strips the skin of moisture.
Instead of a long, hot shower, stick to a short, warm one, and be sure to follow immediately with moisturizer.
4. Crank up the humidity
Your skin isn’t the only thing lacking moisture in winter. The air around us, especially the air inside our climate-controlled homes and offices, is dry, too.
Add moisture to the air by investing in a full-room humidifier. The extra moisture will cut down on static, too – another annoying side effect of dry winter air.
5. Keep lips kissable
The delicate skin on our lips is especially susceptible to the effects of winter. Fight chapped lips with moisturizing lip balm, beeswax, coconut oil or petroleum jelly.
Drink plenty of water, and resist the urge to lick your lips. Just like your mother always told you, it only makes it worse.
6. Heal those heels
Painful, cracked heels are more than just ugly and uncomfortable. They also can lead to infection.
You can help soften heels by applying petroleum jelly or coconut oil at bedtime and covering up with a pair of socks.
7. Keep lotion “handy”
You’re constantly told how important it is to wash your hands. But while washing away those cold and flu germs, you also are washing away your hands’ natural moisture.
Keep a glycerin-based moisturizer handy and apply throughout the day – when you wake up, after hand washing, before you go to bed and whenever hands feel dry.
Keep a bottle in your purse, in your car and in your desk.
8. Calm the itch
Dry winter skin can be incredibly itchy, but scratching only worsens the problem and leads to the risk of infection.
Try a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, and reapply moisturizer frequently. Stick to soft clothing that doesn’t irritate the skin.