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Dry Skin: Soothing the Itch in Winter

Does your dry skin make you want to hibernate?

3rd Step for Dry Skin Care: Be Aware of the Sun

  • Keep Using Sunscreen

Though the sun's rays are less intense in winter, those rays can still burn and damage your skin, says Taylor.

As a matter of fact, snow is an even better reflector than water, bouncing 80% of the sun's rays back to us, compared to less than 20% for sand and surf. That's why you can get a nasty sunburn even in winter -- and why it's important to put on sunscreen all year long.

For daily protection, Taylor suggests using a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and when heading outdoors for winter fun, use a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher. And give your UV protection an even bigger boost by donning sunglasses, a hat, and scarf.

4th Step for Dry Skin Care: Get Your Diet Into the Act

  • Eat Up for Better Skin

A diet rich in healthy fats can be another crucial element in your fight against dry, itchy skin. That's because essential fatty acids like omega-3s help make up your skin's natural, moisture-retaining oil barrier. Too few of these healthy fats can not only encourage irritated, dry skin, but leave you more prone to acne, too.

Give your diet an essential fatty acid boost with omega-3-rich foods like flax, walnuts, and safflower oil, as well as cold-water fish such as tuna, herring, halibut, salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

  • Hydrate Yourself -- And Your House

Dry indoor air can really irritate your skin, so give it a fighting chance by keeping inside air moist. Taylor recommends using a humidifier to pump up the moisture, or even surrounding yourself with indoor plants.

Whichever you choose, aim for an indoor moisture level between 40% and 50%. Investing in a $5 hygrometer (humidity monitor) can help you easily keep track of your house's humidity.

And don't forget to humidify from the inside out by drinking lots of water. To keep skin at optimal hydration, Kaufman recommends 6-8 glasses daily.

Is Your Skin Still Dry? Talk to a Pro

If you're skin gets really dry in winter and these tips aren't helping, or if you develop eczema or other skin irritation, it's time to talk to a dermatologist.

Not only can a dermatologist prescribe stronger treatments to soothe dry skin, they can also help you tailor a skin care regimen that suits your individual needs.

Talk to your primary care physician for a recommendation, or visit the American Academy of Dermatology's web site to find a certified dermatologist near you.

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