5 Ways Nurses Can Cure Dry Winter Skin

dry winter skinBy Erin Wallace

For many nurses across the country, winter brings with it several inches of snow and low temperatures. Winter is also notorious for dry air and skin, which can cause significant discomfort. 

For nurses who are continually washing their hands while on the job and often using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, dry winter skin is a problem. Luckily, there are many remedies for addressing these unpleasant symptoms.

5 Tips for Healing Dry Winter Skin

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Since water and soap can zap moisture from your skin, it's important to replenish it with a good quality hand cream. When shopping for your favorite type of lotion, look for those containing lactic acid. 

According to dermatologists, creams containing lactic acid can help you retain moisture and make your skin feel smooth. Lactic acid can also sometimes be listed as ammonium lactate. It should be one of the top ingredients listed, usually after water.

2. Minimize your exposure to hand sanitizer

Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers are proven to be effective at eliminating germs, good old-fashioned hand washing does the job, too and its effects are much less drying to winter skin. 

Follow CDC guidelines when it comes to washing hands — use warm water and soap and wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Of course, hand sanitizer can't be avoided completely — sometimes you need to use it when water isn't available. But when you do, just make sure to apply moisturizer to help minimize drying effects.

3. Protect your hands

Wear gloves when you go outside to brave the winter air. Since the skin on your hands is thinner than on other parts of your body, it's important to protect them from cold air and wind. 

When your shift is over and you're getting ready to hit the hay, apply a thick hand cream and cover your hands with a pair of light cotton gloves before you go to sleep and you'll awaken with soft and supple skin.

4. Use a humidifier

Heating systems in our homes and hospitals create dry air that can contribute to dry winter skin. At home, hook up a small humidifier to help bring up humidity levels. 

Instead of one large humidifier, place several small units throughout your home, as they'll help distribute moisture more evenly. To minimize mineral deposits, you can use distilled water.

5. Avoid taking super-hot showers

Even though a long, hot soak might be just the thing you want after some time out in the cold, the hot water can dry your skin out even further. Hot water breaks down the natural lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to excessive moisture loss. 

Stick to using warm water instead. For skin that has become so dry it's itchy, taking a warm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve those symptoms.

By putting these tips into practice each day, you can help combat dry winter skin. For dry skin that becomes excessively itchy or develops redness, you may need a prescription lotion from a dermatologist to help address it. 

Make combating dry winter skin part of your self-care routine to help you feel more comfortable until spring arrives.

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