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Cold weather skin care is hot topic

Pam Graber
For the Nevada Appeal

This weekly column addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Q: What are some ways of dealing with winter dry skin?

A: Living in the high desert means low to moderate humidity most of the time. In winter, we depend on dry heat generated by furnaces, fireplaces and stoves to keep us warm. These combined factors result in a loss of water in our skin, the major factor responsible for the dryness and itchiness. Experts offer the following advice for preventing and dealing with the discomfort of dry, itchy winter skin.

BATHING RITUALS

Keep your bathing time brief and the water lukewarm. Five to 10 minutes a day is enough to cleanse and hydrate without sacrificing your body’s natural oils. The intense heat of a hot bath or shower breaks down lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. Bathe in warm water and use a mild soap sparingly.

Moisturize within three minutes of getting out of the shower. The humectant properties of lotions help hold the moisture in your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an oil-based instead of water-based moisturizer.

Dab your body dry with the towel rather than rubbing, to keep more moisture in the skin.

Apply a generous coat of lotion to your legs, arms and derriere first, where dryness sets in most quickly, then move on to your face.

HAND CARE

Hands, with their thinner layer of skin and fewer oil glands, are often exposed and thus more vulnerable to dryness. Cold weather is the main cause of dry hands, so it is important to wear gloves. Use cream that is specifically for hands because it will be a bit heavier, oil-based and more effective. Here are additional tips:

Avoid products with alcohol, which tends to suck the moisture out of the skin.

For extremely dry, damaged skin, coat wet hands with cream, layer on damp cotton gloves (available at drugstores), and then cover the cotton gloves with rubber gloves for the night.

Use olive oil and/or lip balm for dry, brittle nails. Keeping them trimmed short prevents breaks and tears.

BE PROACTIVE

It’s good planning to combat dry skin before it gets severe.

Bundle up. If you’re going to be outside in the cold more that 20 minutes, use a heavy-duty moisturizer with sunscreen to seal in water and protect exposed skin. Wear gloves, a hat and sunglasses to protect the skin around your eyes.

When at home, use humidifiers. This helps put moisture in the air. Note: Be sure to clean the filter regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.

SEEK A SPECIALIST

Shopping for skin products at the drugstore is fine if you know what you need. However, consulting with a dermatologist or esthetician can really pay off. They are able to analyze your skin type and suggest the proper solutions. Solutions will not necessarily be expensive. Dermatologist David Voron, M.D., says, “Inexpensive products work just as well as the high-end ones.”

CLINICS

WHERE: Carson City Health and Human Services; 900 East Long Street, Carson City

CALL: 775-887-2195

ONLINE: http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org and Facebook

Clinic Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., by appointment Monday-Wednesday and Friday

WHAT: Men’s Clinic

WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Mondays. Call for an appointment

Vaccination is the best defense against the flu. CCHHS offers flu injections or nasal mist for $10. No appointment is necessary.

WHAT: Immunization Day

WHEN: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays, no appointment needed.

WHOOPING COUGH EPIDEMIC IN CALIFORNIA

In neighboring California, confirmed cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, is now four times that of last year. Local health officials encourage Tdap boosters for any adult up to 64 years of age that is in close contact with an infant. Whooping cough boosters for adults and vaccine for infants is available at Carson City Health and Human Services.

• Pam Graber is the public information officer at Carson City Health and Human Services. She can be reached at 775-283-7906 pgraber@carson.org.