Winter and fall bring in dry skin in southern California. Dry, hot Santa Ana winds can make you feel parched inside and out. And, cold weather combined with dry heat indoors zap the moisture from your skin. Medications such as antihistamines and topical acne medications reduce skin hydration or skin oils. Other culprits include thyroid disease, diabetes, menopause and older age (>65).
Here are some tips to treat dry skin from head to toe:
Hair and Scalp:
Dry hair can result from chemical treatments, use of hairdryers and hair straightening irons, and over washing. A hair masque applied for 15-20 min once weekly can hydrate the cuticle and restore brittle hair. Hair oils in sprayer bottles used before or after heat drying or straightening are another good option.
Scaling and flaking of the scalp is usually a sign of seborrhea, eczema or psoriasis. If it doesn’t clear up with regular use of a dandruff shampoo, it is time to see a dermatologist.
Dry winter weather frequently results in dry cracked lips. Keep a tube of Vaseline or a plain lip balm or moisturizing lipstick and apply throughout the day. Avoid lip balms with menthol or flavorings as long term use can result in an allergic reaction with increased redness and dryness. Cracked skin at the corner of the mouth with redness may require the addition of hydrocortisone 1%. Failure to respond may require a visit to the dermatologist.
Hands and Feet:
The hands and feet often show the signs of dry weather first. Putting the moisture back by using one of the many effective dry skin products usually works. Some of my favorites, available at most drugstores, are: Cerave Cream, Lipikar Balm , Vanicream, and Cetaphil Cream. For extra dry skin try Aquaphor at night with socks or gloves.
To reduce dry skin on the hands, wear gloves for housework and gardening and use a gentle moisturizer soap. And, avoid the use of alcohol based hand sanitizers which can dehydrate the skin.
Body, arms and legs:
The best tip for all over smooth skin is to apply a moisturizer all over on damp skin after showers. All of these products mentioned above can be used all over the body and reapplied several times a day. If the skin on the arms and leg looks like peeling paint, try a moisturizer that includes urea or lactic acid. These ingredients will exfoliate the dry dead skin cells as well as hydrate dry skin. If the skin is red and very itchy and does not respond to these measures, see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.