Skin Care during Winter (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
In the winter my skin gets tight and itchy all over my body. My heels crack as well. What can I do to stop the itch on my arms, legs, and torso? I only shower every other day and use warm, not hot, water. I use body butter after I shower. It helps with the skin somewhat but my heels are still awful. And do you have any special suggestions for my feet and heels?

FIELDS:
Winter itch is caused by the release of the chemical histamine into dry skin. This histamine release can really be highly itchy and highly disturbing. Ideally, continue your short lukewarm showers, moisturize with either a urea-based moisturizer following the shower and repeat, particularly on your heels at night. Vanimide is a particular favorite cream, and consider taking Benadryl, if you're an adult, 25 milligrams at night to stop the histamine reaction. Benadryl may make you sleep well at night, but may cause drowsiness by day. Topical antihistamine creams after the morning shower will also be helpful.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Can you give some suggestions for men and shaving? My poor husband's face gets so dry in the winter and shaving everyday seems to make it worse.

RODAN:
Shaving when the skin is very warm and moist will soften the hair; so for starters, he may want to try shaving in the shower. Using high-glide shaving products, like Edge, can also be helpful. Changing the blade more frequently will reduce friction against the skin. If your husband has curly beard hair, releasing the curled hair from the skin --gently using tweezers -- prior to shaving will help stop the shaving bumps. Following shaving, applying a moisturizer with sunscreen will improve the dryness. Red, tender shaving bumps are a different issue. These can be treated by a dermatologist who may recommend a combination of a topical antibiotic and/or cortisone cream.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I have heard that you must apply moisturizer about 3 minutes after you get out of the shower or washing your face because it penetrates more deeply. Is this true?

FIELDS:
Yes, that's correct. While the skin is wet the moisturizer can penetrate faster and more completely. That's the best time to apply a moisturizer.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What's the best treatment for chapped skin around the mouth, not necessarily on the lips? Would you use the same treatment for an adult as a toddler?

FIELDS:
There is a common condition with cracking of the corners of the lips. It's called perleche. The nighttime remedy is zinc oxide ointment applied to the corners of the mouth which seals in moisture and acts as an anti-yeast agent and anti-inflammatory agent as well. It can be used on children or adults. In the daytime, you must continue with petrolatum-based or dimethacone-based products hourly to seal in the moisture and stop the continued water loss.

"Look for moisturizers that are either labeled oil-free or noncomedogenic. These labels indicate the product will not clog pores, causing acne flares."

MEMBER QUESTION:
Is dabbing on glycerin and rosewater okay for my winter face, even if I'm acne prone? Will that cause more breakouts?

RODAN:
If the glycerin based product is hydrating enough, go for it. It should not break you out. You bring up a very excellent point. Acne-prone patients often have dry skin and are concerned about using a moisturizer that will exacerbate their breakouts. My suggestion is to look for moisturizers that are either labeled oil-free or noncomedogenic. These labels indicate the product will not clog pores, causing acne flares. If you're on prescription medicine, your doctor may need to modify it slightly; instead of a modern dry-based medicine, replacing it with a lotion-based medicine. That may help, as well.

MODERATOR:
We are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

FIELDS:
Thank you for allowing us to help you with your winter skin problems. We look forward to other opportunities on the wonderful topic of skin to help you. Remember to use soap substitute, lavishly moisturize and wear sunscreen even in the winter and your skin can last a lifetime.

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to Katie P. Rodan, MD, and Kathy A. Fields, MD, for joining us today. And thanks to you, members for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more discussion on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards to ask questions of our online health professionals and to share questions, comments, and support with other WebMD members.



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