Winter itch is another name for dry skin. The symptoms of winter itch - red skin, bumps, cracked and bleeding fingers, scaly patches - sound simple, but they make you just plain miserable. What can you do about winter itch?
A humidifier adds moisture to indoor air and this adds moisture to your skin. Large open areas may require two humidifiers. Most humidifiers have filters and you should replace them as recommended by the manufacturer. You do not need a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. “Even a vaporizer in the room where you are can help, " according to www.webmd.com.
When it is freezing outside a hot shower or bath sounds very inviting. But Mayo Clinic says hot showers and baths make winter itch worse. So lower the water temperature. Tempting as it is to linger in the water, make your cleansing quick. Putting baking soda in your bath water also helps to soothe winter itch.
Replacing moisture helps to combat winter itch, according to the Skin Care Guide Advisory Board. The board says moisturizing your skin does four things. It repairs skin, increases the water content, reduces water loss, and restores the skin's ability to hold/distribute water.
As soon as you step out of the shower or bath apply lotion to your skin. Do this while your skin is still damp. The thicker the moisturizer the better. Petroleum jelly is one example and your pharmacist may recommend others. For severe cases of winter itch coat yourself with lotion and wear leggings and gloves to bed.
GO SANS SCENT
Perfumed soap contributes to winter itch, according to www.mayoclinic.com. So put non-perfumed bath soap at the top of your shopping list. Your dermatologist may recommend an oatmeal cleanser if you have severe winter itch.
Sans scent is also the way to go when it comes to laundry. Instead of harsh detergents, Mayo Clinic recommends perfume-free laundry soap. Read the label carefully and look for the words “perfume free" and “dye free. "
STOP THE SCRATCH-ITCH CYCLE
Scratchy clothes keep you scratching. The solution, according to www.webmd.com, is to wear summer fabrics in winter. Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing will help to stop the scratch-itch cycle. Dress in layers and be careful about what you wear next to your skin. Though wool keeps you warm, it can also make you itch.
These home remedies can heal winter itch. But itchy skin that does not go away may be symptomatic of other diseases, such as hives, celiac disease, skin cancer, leukemia, allergies, and adverse drug reactions. See a dermatologist if your winter itch does not go away.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com . A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find another review on the American Hospice Foundation Web site under the “School Corner" heading.