A recent article in the New York Post1 indicated that six in ten Americans are plagued with what’s called, “winter skin syndrome” through the cold, dry months of the year. The article cited research from a survey of 2,000 people. Sure enough, about 1,200 of the survey participants experienced uncomfortable skin symptoms during November, December, January, February, and March, with January and February being the worst months for unpleasant symptoms.
Winter skin syndrome can refer to a few different dermatological ailments, including itchy skin, red skin, irritated skin, scaly, flaky skin, and dry skin. Of the conditions, dry skin is by far the most common, with 75% of winter skin syndrome patients indicating that they experienced dry skin during the winter season. That means, in a study group of 2,000 randomly selected Americans (with 1,200 of them indicating winter skin syndrome), 900 of them suffered from dry skin symptoms during the winter.
What Factors Cause Dry Skin?
Before we look at remedies for dry skin, let’s take a look at what causes dry skin. When seeking a remedy, it’s important to understand the cause of the problem. And as it turns out, there are a few potential causes as listed by the Mayo Clinic2:
- Cold, dry weather. Weather change is the most common cause of dry skin. When the weather cools down and the humidity levels recede for the season, that lowers the amount of moisture in the air. That, in turn, serves to make the skin feel dry, flaky, scaly, itchy, and red.
- Heat. Believe it or not, heat and warm air can also be a cause of dry skin. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, fireplaces, all of these heat sources pull the moisture out of the air. That’s why the winter months are notorious for creating dry skin symptoms. Not only are the outside weather conditions cold and dry, but the inside heating conditions cause a further removal of moisture from one’s environment. The result is warm, dry air inside and cold, dry air outside.
- Hot showers and harsh soaps. Hot showers (again, a common winter item), tend to remove moisture from the skin, effectively creating dry skin symptoms. Furthermore, most soaps are designed to remove oils from the skin, so they too have the effect of drying out the skin.
- Skin conditions. People with common skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are prone to dry skin symptoms.
The above are the most common causes of dry skin. But there are other circumstances that can bring on dry skin symptoms. For example, excessive exposure to the sun can lead to dry skin. Certain work conditions can result in dry skin. Exposure to harsh cleaning products and chemical solvents can dry out the skin. The list goes on.
How do Environmental Factors Create Dry Skin Symptoms?
Now we know what causes dry skin, but how do those environmental (or genetic) factors actually create dry skin symptoms?
Dry skin is an uncomfortable skin condition, and that’s because certain, physiological phenomena are occurring within the skin layers that are non-optimum.
Skin is a semi-permeable membrane. In fact, the skin is actually comprised of several layers of semi-permeable membranes. The skin is constructed in this way because its purpose is to protect the body from external factors. However, the skin also serves to absorb moisture, sunlight, oxygen, and other essential nutrients from the atmosphere. In ideal environmental conditions, a person’s skin is healthy and happy, well-moisturized, well-taken care of, and not suffering from adverse symptoms and ailments.
However, for someone prone to dry skin symptoms, their skin tends to lose moisture more quickly than someone who is not prone to dry skin symptoms. Remember, the human body is comprised of mostly water. The same is true for the skin. When the skin loses some of its water content, that can cause the skin to become dry and scaly.
Think of the skin as a wet rag hung out to dry in front of a wood stove. As the heat from the wood stove comes into contact with the rag, the moisture content of the rag will recede. Before long, the rag will be completely dry.
The analogy is fitting for those who struggle with dry skin symptoms, especially during the winter3. While the body is continuously working to rehydrate the skin, the body cannot do this as fast as the environment is pulling moisture out of the skin. That’s why it’s so essential for people with dry skin to use moisturizers.
Home Remedies for Dry Skin
There are plenty of home remedies for dry skin. From using a humidifier to taking lukewarm (not hot) baths to bathing with a non-soap cleanser to wearing warm clothes when going outside in cold, dry conditions, there are a few, daily practices that can work wonders in reducing dry skin symptoms.
But possibly the most effective means of treating dry skin is to moisturize. Remember, dry skin is caused by moisture leaving the skin. Therefore, the best remedy for dry skin is often just a process of adding moisture back into the skin, externally.
Dry skin creams, face creams, organic skin lotions, all-natural face creams, all of these and others work well for getting moisture back into the skin.
Rather than spending hours trying to find the best organic skin cream, instead one should pay more attention to how they go about their daily moisturizing routine. It’s critical to moisturize every day, especially after bathing and before bed. Rubbing skin cream and lotion into the skin after bathing and before bed allows the skin to rehydrate and replenish itself with needed moisture.
Getting past dry skin symptoms can seem like a real chore. But the satisfaction of having clear, comfortable, flake-free, itch-free skin is worth it! And we should remember, every time we moisturize, we’re doing our skin a favor!