Protect Skin in Winter: Moisturize Inside and Out
Dry skin, known as xerosis, is common in the winter months. In response to the chilly air, we turn up our heating systems at home and at work, and by doing so we dehumidify the air. De-humidified air tends to draw moisture from our skin, leaving it dry.
For this reason and many others, it's especially important to moisturize your skin during the winter. The following suggestions are intended to help improve skin health in general and help minimize skin moisture loss during the winter months:
Feed skin from the inside. Drinking an adequate amount of water, preferably filtered, is an obvious yet often overlooked measure in keeping skin well hydrated. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, niacin, biotin, folic acid, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important in ensuring that the skin is well nourished. A whole foods diet, preferably organic, abundant in colorful vegetables (especially dark green and orange), fruit, legumes, grains and fiber will usually provide you with the nutrients needed for good skin health. It's also beneficial to avoid processed foods, simple sugars, saturated fats, alcohol and caffeine. Contact your health care practitioner to discuss a dietary regimen and treatment plan that meet your individual needs.
Maintain a regular exercise program. Aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three times weekly increases circulation and facilitates elimination of toxins through the skin. Again, it's important to contact your health care practitioner for a personalized exercise plan.
Minimize external water on your skin. Skin contains protective oils that are eliminated when we bathe. So, bathe no more than once daily (and occasionally skip a day), avoid excessively hot water, bathe for less time, and use gentle soaps that contain natural oils and few additives. This will minimize loss of oil on skin. Apply oil-based lotions (emollients) immediately following a bath or shower. The Bastyr Dispensary carries many organic oil-based lotions for both the body and face. Use a humidifier during the winter. Humidifying the air will help prevent moisture loss from the skin.
Writer: Paul Dompe, ND, Product Review Coordinator at Bastyr Dispensary
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