Rescuing itchy winter skin

Even for those of us who are the most disciplined with our face and body moisturising routines, winter is still a time when many of us will succumb to the dreaded winter skin that’s dry, flaky, and itchy.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

Well, the reason seems to be quite simply that winter calls for bringing in the hydrating ‘big guns’.

As Pharmacist, Sensitive Skin Expert and Founder of QED Skincare Shoshana Eisner says, winter is a time to “ramp up on the moisturiser stakes and address both internal and external factors”, which may lead to itchy winter skin.

Following are Ms Eisner’s top tips on how to say goodbye to dry itchy skin, and hello to soothed, hydrated skin.

  1. Moisturise

Ms Eisner points to the fact that many studies have shown that “the best treatment for the winter itch is prevention and that prevention is the richest moisturiser possible”.

“Try to moisturise at least once a day,” she says.

  1. Consider your fabrics

Ms Eisner says that it’s important that you consider the fabrics you wear as “you may have noticed that you are itchier when your wear particular fabrics, particularly itchy textures, like wool and scratchy flannel”.

“If it tends to flare up at night, consider switching to these soft, breathable fabrics for your sleepwear,” she adds.

  1. Take a warm bath before bed

“Research has shown that a warm bath before bed can make a big difference to Winter Itch, particularly if the itch drives you mad at bedtime (as it often the case),” says Ms Eisner.

“Super-hot baths and showers may be good for the soul but not so good for the skin and may dry it out even further.

“Hot water will strip the skin of its natural skin-protecting oils so as difficult as it may seem, avoid the temptation of super-hot water and keep your baths and showers warm.”

  1. Infuse your bath with some oil

Ms Eisner recommends “adding a hydrating bath oil, like QED Skincare’s The Bath Oil to help calm itchiness while also moisturising the skin”.

“Follow up with a rich moisturiser, and your body will feel immediately soothed,” she says.

  1. Stick to a gentle, soap-free body wash

“Not stripping the skin of its natural oils is key to preventing and treating the itch,” says Ms Eisner.

“I always suggest choosing a gentle, soap-free body wash, which will cleanse, soothe and protect the skin.”

  1. Exfoliate the flake away

“Exfoliating the skin is really important to remove the dead, flakey top surface of your skin and allow your moisturiser to penetrate effectively,” says Ms Eisner.

“Exfoliate the body, particularly the legs and arms, which is where most winter itch occurs, one to two times a week to keep dead skin cells at bay with a gentle body exfoliator.”

  1. Moisturise immediately after showering or taking a bath

Ms Eisner recommends moisturising “your skin immediately after you shower or bathe”.

“This is the most effective way to help seal in moisture while your skin is still damp. Choose a rich body moisturiser that will help lock in the moisture and prevent evaporation,” she recommends.

  1. Go easy on the heat

“If it is freezing in your bedroom, perhaps pop on the heating before you go to bed but switch the heating off when you get into bed,” advises Ms Eisner.

“It is much better for your skin to sleep with an extra layer on (or good old bed socks).”

  1. Consider a humidifier

“Running a humidifier (especially in your bedroom) can help prevent the skin from drying out,” says Ms Eisner.

“The added moisture in the air will help improve your dry or itchy skin, peeling or chapped lips and can also help with sleeping.  It can also help with dry throats and noses.”

  1. Hydrate from the inside out

“The temptation is to drink less water in the colder months because you may not feel as thirsty,” says Ms Eisner.

“You may not be sweating, but your body needs just as much water in winter as it does in the summer.

“Hydration is key to keeping your skin healthy, supple and itch-free.

“Drinking more can also stop your lips from flaking.

“If your lips are dry, drink three cups of water, wait 30 minutes and you will feel instantly re-hydrated. This is a trick my mum taught me – it always works. Try it!”

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