CHICAGO - Spring is here, but this year's brutal winter may have left your skin reaching peak dryness.
Your skin is the first line of defense against the elements, but outside cold and wind, plus inside heating and hot steamy showers equals winter skin. Parched, rough, and broken skin can lead to more serious problems like infection, so skin care is crucial.
Toni Haubert typically loves to walk to work, but not in winter.
"I am not a fan of cold weather, not my favorite season," Haubert said.
The cold weather is hard on her skin.
"I notice that my face is much dryer. My elbows tend to get a little cracked, as well as my hands," Haubert said.
The dry air of winter dehydrates skin, especially on extremities, which have fewer oil glands. Dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob said the first thing to do is adopt a simple skin regimen.
"Put your lotions on immediately after you get out of the shower. You want to barely pat dry so there's still moisturizer on your skin and then trap it in with the lotions or creams that you chose to use," said Jacob, director, Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.
Jacob said the best moisturizers contain ceramides.
"When it gets dried out, you lose some of that natural moisturizing factor and with the products that have ceramides in it, it helps your skin to make more of that natural moisturizing factor," Jacob said.
Jacob also recommends adjusting your diet.
"Foods that are good for your skin would be ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seed, salmon, or walnuts," Jacob explained.
Also, try actually wearing your food, like olive oil. Studies show it soothes and conditions itchy, dry skin and removes makeup. And when your skin feels extra parched, dab a thin layer under your moisturizer for an extra dose of antioxidants.
Jacob said that when the temperature drops, the humidity level plunges, too. Turning up the thermostat doesn't help either. Indoor heating strips even more moisture from the air and your skin.
Install a humidifier in your home to keep air moist. Set humidity at a constant 45 to 55 percent and the temperature at a balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
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