Our skin is more than just a covering, it is our body’s largest organ, so we need to do our best to look after. Maintaining healthy skin means we are better protected from losing essential fluids, including water and also better equipped to stop irritants from the environment making their way to the inside of our bodies causing potential inflammation and infection.
In Winter our skin cries out for some extra help and attention so it doesn’t let us down. One of the ways it tells us we need to give it some attention, is when it becomes itchy, dry and flaky. By the time this has happened we have already lost a lot of our body’s water through the skin and its protective function is already weakened. So let’s find some time to love our skin and keep it healthy and functioning well before this happens.
- Apply your moisturiser immediately after your shower, and by immediately after I mean within the first two minutes of turning the tap off. This is when the skin can soak up the most hydration from using a moisturiser and also the layer the moisturiser puts on the skin will stop extra water loss at the skin’s surface.
- Stop using soap. Soap has ingredients which dry the skin and strip the skin of it’s natural protective oils. Pharmacies and health food stores carry many options for soap alternatives which often have moisturising and nourishing natural ingredients to work with your skin and keep it healthy.
- At night choose to use a thicker or heavier moisturiser, especially on your legs and hands which can really suffer through Winter. A heavier moisturiser, or ointment stays on the skin for longer, preventing water loss and strengthening the skin’s natural barrier. One way to know if your moisturiser will be thick is to check that the first ingredient listed isn’t water. Many creams and lotions will have water listed as their first ingredient. Water evaporates quickly from the skin, taking some of the body’s hydration with it.
- For every hot tea or coffee you drink to warm up drink two glasses of water. Tea and coffee can have a dehydrating effect on the body and we need to overcompensate for this during Winter.
- Layer up and cocoon your skin in layers of breathable cotton clothing rather than cranking up moisture sapping indoor heating.
By Julia Simmonds, Pharmacist and Founder of Itchy Baby.