Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer can really dry out your hands. Combined with colder weather, drier air and less water consumption, your skin can easily become dehydrated and feel dry, itchy or experience flares in eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.
It's time to think about the factors affecting your body's water balance.
Intake! Drink plenty of filtered water (not from plastic bottles)
Humidity matters: during winter months, aim for maintaining at least 30% and ideally closer to 40% indoors - you may be able to adjust furnace settings or simply add humidifiers to bedrooms (use a hygrometer to test your humidity level).
Skin barrier: genetics, diet/digestive health and environment all play a role in skin function - and the right topical oils can help (see below). Apply a moisturizer to protect the skin barrier after washing or sanitizing hands.
drink hot water with fresh lemon (and ginger!) in the mornings - and evening too if you'd like (but limit fluids in the 2 hours before bed to avoid night time wakings to urinate)
drink room temperature water through the day: keep a glass pitcher on the counter, or fill a large water bottle 1-2 x during the day and sip often! Try using an app with a water sound - set it hourly to remind you to drink.
if you wear a mask at your workplace, have a water bottle at work, and plan breaks to drink water - but in this case, aim to drink at least 250-500ml each break - you may not get another sip for a while!
incorporate soups and broths! (a good choice in colder weather)
herbal teas, green/black tea, coffee and alcohol: may actually be more dehydrating than hydrating - so these may have minimal to no net benefit toward your daily water goal.
Moisturize! Find a cream that lets your skin breathe - or try a pure oil to suit your skin. Each type of oil has a different balance of oleic and linoleic acids, as well as others like alpha-linolenic acid. Linoleic acid soothes red, irritated and itchy skin (all of the oils below contain this - in differing amounts). All skin types can benefit from some of this. Dry or aging skin can benefit from increased oleic acid as well (in diet: extra virgin olive oil, and in topical oils like marula or argan). Reducing oleic acid content may help improve acne or skin that is irritated by sweating.
Argan (oleic > linoleic): for dry skin (including dry forms of eczema, acne)
Rosehip (linoleic & alpha linolenic): for oily skin (including rosacea, eczema, acne, blemishes).
Jojoba (oleic = linoleic): for balanced skin (acts more like a wax to seal the skin and prevent water loss, but non-comedogenic) - use before going outside!
Note: Creams with beeswax (preferred over petroleum) definitely seal skin, but don't allow it to breathe. Caution with over-use of those products - and maybe don't use them as your night cream. Try an oil instead!
As always, this blog is informational only and is not meant as a treatment recommendation or advice. For individualized medical recommendations, please book an appointment.
Dr. Natalie Senst, ND