Living Well – Skin care for winter’s itch

Yes, you’re reading this right. It’s before 8 am and I’m up with my first cup of coffee for the day. Mostly because I’ve been up all night again. But I made the mistake of having a nap last night. Sometime during the night, I looked down at my feet and marveled at how dirty they were. I’ve been cleaning my condo like mad. My condo is all laminate flooring and no matter how much I clean it, my feet always seem to pick up dirt. I hate socks for the most part.

This is one thing I’m looking forward to – is having carpet again when I move. There is nothing better than a freshly cleaned carpet to sink your bare feet into. Am I right? I’m also looking forward to having a proper bath. And if all goes well tomorrow, I’ll have a fitness centre too. All good things.

I decided to take some time and really wash my feet. Like scrub between the toes. Got the toenails done. I forgot how good that feels. I’m not a feet person. I hate looking at feet. I hate touching feet. Even my own. But there’s nothing quite as satisfying as giving yourself a food and toe massage, and then lathering your dry winter skin with some aloe vera skin cream.

For me, I notice that the end of winter usually brings dry and itchy skin. We had a very dry winter this year with very little snow. This climate can be harsh on all skin types. And so, I’ve learned a few tricks that I’ll share with you on how to keep your skin healthy, moisturized and also how to fix cracked heels.


What causes dry and itchy skin?

Dermatitis is usually the culprit behind dry and itchy skin. But there can be other causes too like exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals, allergic reactions, changes in diet (rare), dehydration and of course, winter itch. This is common in places like Alberta that suffer with long and cold winters.

Winter itch can hit anyone, at any age with any skin type. I have sensitive and pale skin – it often turns red this time of year. If I neglect or get lazy with my skin care, then my skin becomes super flaky and itchy, very fast. Some people develop bumps or spots or even a pink or reddish rash.

Hard water can also cause your skin to become dry and itchy.


Where does winter itch strike?

More commonly, winter itch can affect the feet, legs, hands and arms. The degree in which it affects people depends on multiple factors from other health conditions, skin problems, aging or being overweight. Hormonal imbalances can also wreck havoc on your skin.


What can I do for winter itch and dry skin?

The good news is there are lots of great home remedies that can be used to help combat the icky feeling of dry skin. I know my skin often looks like leather when really cold or dry.

I have a few products that I go to for all my skin care needs. The combination of a really good facial wash, body hygiene (regular showers or baths) and skin lotion usually is enough for me.

The most important thing you can do for your skin is to practice good hygiene. I’ve been slacking in this area since being at home. I’ll shower every other day instead of every day like when I was working. I’m trying to get back into the habit of getting up in the morning, showering and having some kind of normal routine. This is so crucial for problematic skin.

The other thing is to eat a healthy and well balanced diet, avoid foods high in sugar or cut back on caffeine and pop. Reduce your alcohol consumption. Wine for example is terrible for people with Rosacea.

Stay hydrated! Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses or cups of water each day. Not only is this great for the skin, but it can help to leave you feeling full longer after your meals, and can aid in weight loss.


Home Remedies

CeraVe Facial Wash or lotion

I love CeraVe products. The facial wash helps to keep my Rosacea at bay and leaves my skin feeling so soft after use. I found that leaving the bottle of facial wash in the shower helped to remind me to use it daily. I use it for my face, neck and chest area – and even behind the ears. Follow up with an application of either CeraVe skin lotion or something like Aloe Vera lotion will really help reduce symptoms of winter itch.

I swear by Nivea products. It’s what I use daily on my face. I use the Aloe Vera Refreshing Nivea Cream for my skin and it really lives up to its name. My mum used Nivea too – so it’s a trusted brand in our family.

I cannot recommend Aloe Vera based products enough. It comes from a natural plant that has been used for healing various ailments for thousands of years. There is also a great Vaseline Aloe Vera skin lotion too.

Vaseline

This is an old trick my mom used to make us do for our feet. I remember my brother had a heck of a time with cracked heels. Use good old fashioned vaseline on your feet. Rub a generous amount on your skin before bedtime. Really rub it in. Give yourself a bit of a massage. Of course this feels better after a good soak in the tub. Then take a pair of cotton socks and wrap up your feet for the night. Do this for a few days and the itching should subside.

The key to skincare is repetition – and getting into a daily routine.

Oatmeal

When I was younger, I used oatmeal mixes on my face for my acne but it also made a huge mess and dried out my skin. Apparently, colloidal oatmeal has known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help with itchy skin. You can buy the ground powder and it to your bath – or you can purchase a lotion with oatmeal in it.

Baking Soda

Not only will soaking in a bath with baking soda in it will help clean your bathroom – but it can also help to reduce inflammation in your skin. Baking soda is a natural ingredient without harsh chemicals and can be a great remedy for winter itch.

Skin Treatments

About once a year, I have to visit my doctor for a prescription for my skin. I don’t get breakouts often anymore, maybe twice a year now. The meds help with that. If you’ve tried various home remedies without relief, then I suggest a trip to your doctor. The issue may not be winter’s itch at all – it could be another form of dermatitis or something else all together.

One thing I used to do when I had the money, was go for a massage every spring. It was a steam massage that used sea salts for exfoliating the skin. I can’t tell how you amazing this made me feel. Exfoliation is a great way to help remove dead skin cells which can also contribute to the irritating itch.

You can easily do this treatment at home by using a sea salt scrub and applying it to your body. Let it sit on the skin for 10-15 minutes before climbing into a hot bath. If you’re lucky enough to have a steam room – then try it in the steam room. It will help to open your pores like they’ve never been opened before.

I think I’ve convinced myself to book one of these as soon as personal services are available!

Are you a dry skin sufferer? What do you do for your winter’s itch? Let me know in the comments!


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