The Big Dry

You think your skin would lose less moisture in winter, compared to the heat of summer. But that is not the case. A combination of drier air and indoor heating can lead to skin that feels dry, tight and itchy.

Whether it is summer or winter though, dry skin is caused by a loss of water. For our skin to feel smooth and supple, the top layer needs to be at least 10 per cent water, a level that helps to repair and maintain the barrier function of the skin and keep it healthy.

As well as being uncomfortable and sore, overly dry skin can also be unsightly, developing small splits or cracks and appearing like the scales of a lizard. It can also lead to skin infections if there is a break in your skin from crackling, and make you more vulnerable to dermatitis.

Prevent and treat dry skin with the following tips:

1. Avoid very hot showers.

As tempting as it is to thaw out under hot running water if you are feeling cold. It is recommended to reduce the frequency and length of baths or showers and use lukewarm water. Overly hot water can strip away the protective surface oils that help your skin retain water.

2. Turn down the thermostat – or turn it off.

If you have heating or air conditioning in your home, don’t over-do it. Hot air tends to be drier than cooler air. However, air conditioners, cool or warm will dry the air out so try to limit your exposure.

3. Keep drinking water.

Your body loses water through your skin all year, not just in the hot summer months. Replenish it through the day.

4. Use soap substitutes.

Normal soap can irritate or damage your skin. Ask your pharmacist for advice on soap substitutes.

5. Quit.

If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking will dry out your skin and vaping is likely to have the same effect.

6. Wear gloves.

Your hands are often the first place you notice dry skin. Put on gloves before you:

·       perform tasks that require you to get your hands wet

·       get chemicals, grease, and other substances on your hands

·       go outside on a cold day.

How to add moisture

Moisturisers work by providing a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping, and applying one regularly is an effective way of tackling dry skin.

Despite the hype around certain brands, you really can’t go very wrong with any moisturiser you choose, so pick one that feels good on your skin. For extremely dry skin you may need a thicker moisturiser – ask your pharmacist for a recommendation.

The best time to apply moisturiser is after showering when your skin is still damp. It is also advisable to apply lip balm multiple times throughout the day. If your hands are particularly dry, always apply hand cream after washing your hands.