Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Weather Skin Savers


I've mentioned before that I have eczema and psoriasis. It's delightful this time of year, when typical dryness and irritation is exacerbated by extreme cold, wind, indoor heaters, and the prevalence of wool clothing. There are days when I'd like nothing more than to bathe in Vaseline and swaddle myself in a Snuggie made of the purest organic cotton, but when that isn't an option, I rely on a few tricks I've learned over the years to keep me feeling sane and comfortable.

These suggestions are not exclusively for eczema/psoriasis sufferers either, they'll work equally well for anyone looking to give their skin a little TLC.

#1) Use a gentle body scrub.

Body scrubs work wonders on all types of skin, but I've found that during winter, using a scrub 1-2 times a week has tremendous benefits for my flaky, itchy skin. I prefer oil based sugar scrubs, since they moisturize as well as exfoliate. The Body Shop has plenty of options, but if you're like me (read: cheap), it's super easy to whip up something just as wonderful in your kitchen. Simply mix 1 part olive oil with 2 parts sugar, smooth on your skin in a circular motion for 30 seconds, then rinse off in the shower. It leaves your skin incredibly soft, and I typically see a huge reduction in inflammation.

Suggested measurements for homemade scrub: 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup sugar

#2) Get greasy.

One of the best ways to prevent an eczema flare-up is to keep your skin well hydrated. When choosing a moisturizer, opt for a greasy, thick formula rather than lotions and oils. These will stick to your skin longer and penetrate deeper for more efficient moisturization. My favorites are Vaseline, whose praises I briefly sung in my Thanksgiving post, and Aquaphor. I cannot recommend Aquaphor enough - it's basically Vaseline on crack - and if you suffer from any kind of dryness or dematitis, it will change your life. Apply one of these right after your shower, when your body is still damp, to lock in the moisture. I recommend doing this after a night-time shower, since aforementioned greasiness will leave you looking slick and noticeably shiny.

#3) Use some common sense.

I sound like my mom now, but you know what? She's a smart lady, and there are a few key things that will always bear repeating, no matter how many times you hear them:
  1. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. When you hydrate from the inside out with nature's magical health and beauty elixir, you reap benefits like healthier, smoother skin. Also, less chapped lips! Faster healing sunburns! Fewer headaches! More energy!
  2. Get sufficient sleep every night. Stress has been proven to have a significant impact on physical health. Get more sleep, stress less, have clearer skin.
  3. Avoid products that might trigger a reaction: harsh soaps, detergents, perfumes, scratchy fabrics, anything with too many chemicals.
What about you? Do you have any suggestions for winterizing your skin? Feel free to share them in the comments below; I'm always looking out for new tips!

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