Dry skin occurs when skin doesn't retain sufficient moisture. This can happen as a result of frequent bathing, use of harsh soaps, aging, or certain medical conditions. And for those in colder climates, it can stem from cold, dry winter air. During winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, you may suffer from red, rough, raw, and itchy skin. This is because cold winter air means low humidity, both outdoors and indoors. The water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Fortunately, there are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to relieve winter dry skin, also known as winter itch or winter xerosis. Even if you live in a part of the world where cold winter air is not currently or ever a concern, most people will need to manage dry skin at some point. These tips for keeping skin soft and healthy can help all who battle dry skin, from chilly New England to balmy Hawaii and beyond.
Skin moisturizers, which rehydrate the top layer of skin cells and seal in the moisture, are the first step in combating dry skin. They contain three main types of ingredients. Humectants, which help attract moisture, include ceramides (pronounced ser-A-mids), glycerin, sorbitol, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. Another set of ingredients for example, petrolatum (petroleum jelly), silicone, lanolin, and mineral oil helps seal that moisture within the skin. Emollients, such as linoleic, linolenic, and lauric acids, smooth skin by filling in the spaces between skin cells.