Tips to stay smooth and supple as seasonal changes remove moisture from skin

Drying effects of winter weather can be tough on skin. (Courtesy Adam Friedman)
With hand fissures on dry cracked skin, Dr. Friedman recommends using a liquid bandage product to promote healing. (Courtesy Adam Friedman)
Super dry, cracked skin can lead to asteatotic eczema like this that’s often seen in people who sit in front of a heater. (Courtesy Adam Friedman)

Chapped lips and scratchy skin don’t have to be part of your fall and winter seasons, according to a D.C. dermatologist who has tips to help keep you properly moisturized.

“Declining temperatures and lower humidity can put the skin at risk for several skin issues, including dry, itchy, cracked skin, windburn and even sunburn,” said Dr. Adam Friedman, chair of dermatology at The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

He also said that cooler temperatures do not mean sun protection is no longer needed.

The change in season is particularly hard on the lips.

“Lips are more sensitive to temperature changes because they’re missing the top layer or most of the top layer that the rest of our skin has that keeps water in and keeps it where it’s supposed to be and bad stuff out,” Friedman said.

The solution: “Rehydrate them by applying water and then a thick moisturizer or lip balm or even something like Vaseline to the damp lips. This will allow the skin to turn over correctly and kick those extra skin cells to the curb so they don’t look so dry,” he explained.

If you’re having a lot of trouble with your lips, Friedman recommends applying a lip balm that contains petrolatum or paraffin wax to damp lips right before bed. Always recommended is applying lip balm with an SPF of least 30 when spending time outdoors.

Friedman has a way to fortify hands dry hands fairly quickly, which he calls his “dry hand boot camp.”

“If you have really dry, cracked, painful hands, a trick I tell my patients is to soak them in plain water for a couple of minutes. Apply your favorite moisturizer immediately after to damp skin and then cover with either socks or gloves for about an hour,” he said.

Hands and fingers that become so dry they develop cracks and fissures are not beyond repair.

“A nice life hack is to use liquid band aid; you want to apply a little in the middle of that V-neck split, bring the edges together and hold for at least a minute to keep the skin together so it can heal faster and of course be less painful,” Friedman said.

A routine for best body care involves moisturizing damp skin within five minutes of getting out of the shower; only pat dry.

“You want to apply moisturizer to damp skin because if that water is able to dry it, will pull more water out of the skin and dry it further. Lock the water in by applying moisturizer to damp skin versus dry skin,” Friedman said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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