Dry itchy skin is irritating and embarrassing. It is often obviously red, irritated, itchy and flaky. It is even worse when the skin over your face is dry and tight. You are uncomfortable all day and feel like everyone can see the skin stretched tightly over your cheeks and lips.

Dry skin can occur at any time of the year, but it is more common during the winter or cold months when the humidity is lower and the environmental factors are more harsh. The low temperatures, low humidity, and dry air from the furnace suck the moisture right out of your skin – from your face and the rest of your body. (1)

During the winter months the oils glands do not supply enough lubrication to the skin; as a result the skin becomes dry and dehydrated. For some individuals dry skin is not related to the environmental factors but to a genetic or hereditary conditions.

Other conditions that contribute to dry facial skin are poor nutrition, underlying medical condition such as underactive thyroid, diabetes or drugs used to treat high blood pressure.

There are a few things that you can do at home to alleviate the problem and prevent any further damage the dry skin can cause with your skin care. Just as the hot air robs the skin of moisture so does hot water.

When washing your face keep the water as cool as you can stand. Keep your showers short and use lukewarm water in the shower as well. Limit yourself to one shower a day, and every other day if possible.

Moisturizing is the key to keeping your skin soft and supple, also preventing premature aging. Moisturizer should be applied to the skin when it is still damp from the shower or washing your face. For the best effect you should pat your face dry, do not rub it, before applying the moisturizer.

Use a moisturizer that is specific for the time of the day it is being applied. For instance, moisturizer that is applied during the day should also have SPF 15 or above sun screen to protect the skin from sun damage while night time cream can be richer and more emollient.

If you don’t wear base make up you can also spritz your face with facial water during the day and dab on moisturizer to protect your face from the harsh office environment.

If tap water is contributing to the condition with the additional deposits on the skin then use mineral water for your final rinse and use a hydrating toner for a final cleanse. Dry skin also responds well to regular stimulation with massage that you can do when you are washing your face. Use a gentle cleanser and don’t use it more than twice daily to get the environment dirt and grime from the face.

Exfoliate the face twice weekly with a gentle product, preferably something you make at home and includes oatmeal. This helps to remove the top layer of dead skin cells that prevent the living cells from absorbing moisturizer.

Men and women who suffer from dry skin can also support the health of their skin by improving their nutritional intake. The skin responds well to omega 3 fatty acids which are found in milled flax seed and fresh fish. You can add a teaspoon of flax seed to your cereal in the morning or your salad at lunch or dinner.

You may also want to invest in a humidifier for the home that will increase the amount of moisture in the air and protect your skin. It also helps to improve the heating system which decreases the need for high heat.

Other natural products that are helpful include getting 8 hours of sleep a night which helps the skin, the second largest organ in the body, to regenerate and care for itself.

Exercise will boost circulation and encourage blood flow. And using natural products found at the grocery store to moisturize the skin, such as avocados and bananas, will help to add moisture and vitamins at the same time.

Caring for dry skin presents unique challenges that can be met. When addressed with natural remedies most people are able to enjoy clear, moist skin that is the envy of others.

(1) University of Iowa: Winter Dry Skin

www.uihealthcare.com/topics/skinhealth/winterskin.html