Dry Skin Got You Down?

Wintertime is ubiquitous with dry skin for many people – when the temperatures drop and the heaters come on, it can be very drying to our bodies’ outer layer. Not only that, but seasonal food changes, extra layers and less direct sunlight can affect our health and the health of our skin in indirect ways too.

So, how to deal? There are a variety of ways to address dry skin. Ideally, addressing the underlying cause of skin dryness is where we can best solve the issue.

To start, address the heating system. Heaters tend to be quite drying for the air, as the heat evaporates the water present in the closed space of your home or car in the wintertime. Drier air is a double whammy: it means less moisture for your skin, and it also pulls the moisture from your skin.

To cope:

  • Turn down the thermostat. Add an additional clothing layer or two if needed.

  • Don’t sit too close to a heater – if you can feel it blowing on you, you’re too close.

  • Use a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the most time to rehydrate the air (there are a variety of inexpensive options available these days – make sure you use a humidifier and not a dehumidifier – they have very similar sounding names).

  • In the car: direct hot air vents away from you. Wear gloves to protect the skin on your hands from the vented air, even if the heat if turned down.

There are many other supportive therapies that may help:

  • Ensure you are consuming healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, salmon, walnuts, and so on. These are essential for glowingly healthy skin.

  • Manuka honey has been shown to help with skin wound healing. A little goes a long way, so try using some on a piece of food (or straight up!). Not only that, but the antimicrobial and immune-supportive properties of manuka honey make it a great choice during cold-flu season.

  • Use gentle soap without synthetic fragrances; avoid soaps with anything chemical-sounding on the label. This will be much gentler on your skin when showering or bathing. Locally-crafted soaps are often a good option.

  • Moisturize! Choose an unscented product with minimal ingredients. Look for shea butter, cocoa butter, and/or beeswax; avoid products with chemical-sounding ingredients. Also avoid products if “water” is listed as one of the first five ingredients – contrary to how it sounds, a water-based moisturizer can be drying for already dry skin.

  • Supplement with specific vitamins and minerals to support skin integrity. For example: Vitamin E and zinc have demonstrated skin supportive properties (zinc is synergistic with manuka honey, meaning the combined effects are not only additive but super-boosted). Check with your doctor as to what supplementation would be safe and appropriate for you.

  • Homeopathic Graphites (low potency) may be helpful if the tips of your fingers are cracked or split open and develop a yellowish crust – that “honey-colored crust” is often an indication that Graphites can help. Check with your doctor to make sure this would be safe and appropriate for you to try.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink water or herbal tea throughout the day and minimize caffeinated drinks, as caffeine can be dehydrating.

  • Avoid foods that you know can trigger reactivity, sensitivities and/or allergies for you. The added stress on your system takes energy and resources away from your body’s regular maintenance of itself, including skin health. The less “stuff” to deal with, the better.

Of course, dry skin may also signal a deeper concern – especially if you experience dry skin year-round and not just in the wintertime. For any skin health concerns, it’s always a good idea to see your health care provider (your PCP, naturopathic physician or dermatologist would be a good place to start).

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.