- Healthy Steps: Winter Skin—First Steps
- Healthy Steps: Winter Skin—Full Program
- Preventing Winter Skin
Dry skin begs for extra attention during the winter! What was once just dry and flaky can become red and inflamed, even painful and cracking. Some simple steps in your life and in your medicine chest can make a big difference for problematic skin. Winter skin may not have an official medical name, but it can grab your attention all the same.
It's important to treat underlying medical conditions that can aggravate dry skin, through lifestyle changes or medical attention. For most people, dry skin is simply the result of dry air, harsh soaps, hot water, and the wrong moisturizer. Other common causes of dry skin include food allergies or sensitivities, malabsorption, or a deficiency of essential fatty acids or fat-soluble vitamins. Conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or diuretic use are factors that should also be considered when diagnosing the cause of dry skin.
People with pre-existing skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis can also feel an aggravation of their skin condition during winter months. No matter what the cause of your dry and red winter skin, solutions are not difficult to find.
For the greatest improvement with the fewest steps, do the following:
- Minimize drying: stick with short showers, or add essential oils to your bath water.
- Moisturize internally with liberal amounts of healthy fats (cold water fish, butter, and coconut oil) and a daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids, such as Barlean's Omega Swirl (I like Key lime flavor.)
- Moisturize externally with coconut oil and add calendula ointment if simply dry turns to painfully red.
Follow my basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle guidelines, with the following modifications:
Savor Helpful Foods
A wide range of foods can help to moisturize your skin from the inside out.
- Fresh, unprocessed foods. Select fresh foods and avoid processed foods to enhance your body's ability to moisturize skin from the inside.
- High-quality animal fats. Eat organic meats, full-fat organic dairy, wild-caught seafood, and pastured eggs. These supply valuable fatty acids that support the production of sebum, the skin's natural protective oils.
- Healthful vegetable oils. Choose organic, cold-pressed virgin coconut, olive oils and organic butter to supply additional fatty acids essential for skin health. Take four tablespoons daily.
- Flax oil. The best source of flax oil comes from freshly ground flax seeds or a high quality flax oil.
Supplements can help
- Omega 3 fatty acids can help moisturize the skin from the inside. An easy one to take is Barlean's Omega Swirl, 1 Tbsp or 1000 mg daily.
Daily Life Activities
- Use bath time for moisturizing: Select goat milk based soap for spot cleansing and rely on water elsewhere in brief showers. For baths, add bath salts or essential oils to your bath water. If choosing Epsom Salts, check that the product is suitable for ingestion: you absorb it through your skin!
- Moisturize right away! After a gentle toweling, apply moisturizers liberally, relying on coconut oil or other organic oils or creams. For skin that is thick, extra dry, or red and irritated, choose a calendula ointment. Avoid water-based lotions which are drying.
- For dry lips, use Dr. Bronner's lip care sticks, my personal favorite and I am a lifelong lip balm indulger!
- Humidify your indoor air with a good and frequently cleaned humidifier.
- Protect your skin when outdoors, using scarves, hats, and other protective gear to shelter from wind and cold when outside.
I'll just take a moment to indulge a pet peeve which is our national obsession with over-cleanliness! We don't need hand sanitizers for every building we enter. Staying free of illness-spreading germs is much simpler than that and much safer for our skin. Avoid touching your face! Scratching a tickle in your nose delivers whatever bugs your hand has found on that shopping cart or bank counter. When you're near a sink, use warm water, real soap and silently chant through the alphabet song while you wash your hands! Avoid excessively harsh sanitizing agents, remember that some exposure to all the germs out there can make you stronger!