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Boost moisture level for skin care

Winter finally looks like it has arrived. As much as I enjoy a little cold weather, I hate how it makes my skin feel. Let’s list a few precautions to consider as we settle down for the long winter season.

Our skin loses moisture during the colder months due to many factors, both natural and man-made. The heat from central heat and air systems and fireplaces tend to dry out the air in our homes and leech it from our skin. Humidity needs to be restored, and humidifiers are not just for babies any more. Space several cool water humidifiers throughout the house, open bathroom doors during showers to dissipate moisture throughout the house, and a simmering pot of water with cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg gives the house a wonderful scent and gives the moisture level in the house a boost.

Nothing feels better when coming in from the cold than a nice hot shower or bath, but be careful: hot water can break down the lipid barrier of our skin and rob it of its natural moisturizers. Keep shower and bath water warm and limit the time of both. Moisturize your skin with a heavier lotion or body butter with petroleum jelly or a glycerin base while your skin is still damp. Pay special attention to your hands when moisturizing. Hands have thinner skin and fewer oil glands. This causes them to dry out faster and often crack and bleed, especially if you are required to wash your hands often. Frequent hand washing should be the norm during cold and flu season, but safeguard your hands’ health, too.

Facial care in the winter should be a gentler routine, even if you have oily skin. Switch from a summer routine of frequent exfoliation, toners and astringents to gentler foam washes, exfoliate less often, and less harsh make-up removers. Use deeper hydrating formulas for your skin care routine.

Don’t forget your feet. Even though the strappy sandals are packed away, our feet need extra moisturizing too. A pedicure can be a special treat, or slather your feet in a moisturizing heavier cream and put on socks before bed. Diabetics should remember to dry carefully between their toes and NOT use moisturizers between toes. Diabetic foot care in the winter is even more important as feet are encased in socks and shoes more and can break down delicate skin.

Lastly, see a specialist such as a dermatologist about your skin if you continue to have problems. Ask your doctor to evaluate your type of skin and recommend a cold-weather plan for skin care.

Remember that harsh weather is harsh on our skin and it needs a little more tender loving care.

Suzanne Williams is the FACS agent at Dougherty County Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at (229) 436-7216 or suzanwms@uga.edu.