Keeping warm and toasty in winter’s chill can take its toll on skin

With frigid temperatures bearing down on much of the U.S., people are turning up their thermostats and cranking their car heaters. But the flip side of toasty homes, offices and long car trips is the loss of moisture in the environment that leaves skin feeling dry and itchy.

“Water always moves downhill, even on a microscopic level,” said Michelle Tarbox, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University. “When the level of moisture in the air drops due to the heating process, it practically sucks the water out of your skin.”

Complicating this drying effect is the extra hand-washing that’s done to avert flu and cold germs as well as the excessive drinking of coffee and other caffeinated beverages that can contribute to dehydration.

Caffeine also zaps vitamin C and other nutrients from the body. To replace this vital nutrient,  the dietary supplement Super C22 from Dr. Newton’s Naturals protects the immune system with 22 forms of vitamin C. It’s also anti-inflammatory, restores energy and relieves stress and contains important minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Ways to rehydrate
There are a number of ways that people can limit the discomfort of chapped lips and cracked skin.

The first is to use a humidifier at night to add moisture into the air while you sleep. Distilled water works better than tap water in dehumidifiers because it prevents mineral build-up that can clog machinery parts. During night hours, humidity is restored at a comfortable level and is especially helpful to those who have developed dermatitis, a condition that causes itchy, inflamed skin.

Saline sprays help keep mouth, eyes and nasal areas hydrated. Otherwise, these dried-out surfaces are robbed of the protective level of mucus that fights viral infections.

Tarbox also recommends that people avoid using harsh cleansers, which can irritate dry skin further. She said products that include beneficial ingredients such as essential oils, jojoba and shea butter oil will keep skin supple.

Not all moisturizers are equal. Tarbox’s oil recommendations also happen to be the best ingredients in skin moisturizers, although products should be chosen according to one’s skin type, whether it be dry, normal or oily.

Finally, drinking liquids may seem a natural way to hydrate the body, but caffeinated drinks such as coffee and alcoholic beverages have the opposite effect. To balance their impact, Tarbox advised people to consume one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage in order to rehydrate.