During the winter, some Iowans’ homes are literally drier than the Sahara Desert, making our skin flake, crack and bleed. Cold air holds less moisture and furnaces blow more dry air, making the situation worse. Dr. Janet Fairley, a University of Iowa dermatology professor, has a few tips for saving your skin.
Fairley says to make sure you add humidity to your air at home using single-room or whole-house humidifiers, even setting out pans of water, anything to get more water in the air. She says dry skin problems can go far beyond cosmetic appearances, as having cracked skin during the wintertime can be very painful and an open sore could subject you to a greater risk of getting an infection.
Fairly says many of us like to take a steaming-hot shower when it’s frigid outside, but that’s a no-no. "You need to avoid the tendency to get in the hottest shower possible, which is what we all want to do on a cold day, because that’s going to strip natural moisture out of your skin and make it worse," she says "make sure people are bathing with water that’s not too hot and then following any shower or bathing, you want to get a good moisturizer on your skin to seal in any moisture that’s there."
She says some anti-bacterial soaps can also be harsh for dry skin, stripping out moisture. As for those expensive moisturizers, Fairley says to forget them. They’re essentially all the same as "plain old Vaseline" with different oils and perfumes added in. She adds, most men won’t want to use those "women’s" products, but men also don’t want dry skin.
She says guys should use lotions that aren’t perfumed so they "won’t smell like his girlfriend" and also because the perfumed moisturizers tend to irritate the skin when you use them frequently. Fairley jokes that another sure-fire way to beat dry skin is to move someplace lush and tropical, far south of Iowa.