February 01, 2022
It's that time of the year again! We've been spending all our time indoors, where our furnaces are keeping us cozy and warm... and dry. Too dry! Indoor heating is a nice modern convenience, but it also tends to quickly dehumidify the air. Ideally, our indoor winter humidity should be around 45%, but it can be very challenging to reach that goal. Many people suffer from dry skin that cracks and peels in the winter. Continue reading to discover a few tips and tricks for keeping your skin soft and moisturized from the inside out.
Tip #1: Hydrate with water
When we think of hydration and moisture, we immediately think of water. First, evaluate your daily water intake and make sure you're not falling short. Everyone's body is different and you don't need to force yourself to drink 3 gallons of water every day. Aim for between 0.5 Oz - 1 Oz per pound of body weight, per day. Remember that many foods deliver an amount of water, like soups and stews, fruits and veggies, etc.
You can measure your home's indoor humidity with a digital standalone humidity gauge which can be found for less than $10 online or in a home goods store. Many thermostats also measure humidity, especially if you have a smart thermostat. To increase your home's humidity, you can install a whole-home humidifying system on some furnaces. You can also purchase small humidifiers and run them throughout the winter, although they require daily upkeep and only affect one room.
Tip #2: Protect from the inside with healthy fats
Fats also play an essential role in hydration. In this interesting rat study, fish oil supplementation was shown to help reduce dry skin and itching, promote the skin's protective barrier functions, and helped protect against water loss through the skin. The rats who were given fish oil were found to have a different ratio of fats (higher in omega-3's) in the composition of their skin. You can also refer to this study which found a decrease of dry skin with omega-3 supplementation. (Links to both studies can be found at the end of this blog post.)
Tip #3: Moisturize with all-natural herbs and oils
Take time each day to apply topical moisturizers. My personal favorite combination for winter is aloe vera gel plus an organic simple oil. On clean, dry skin I'll first apply a layer of organic 99% aloe vera gel. Once that has dried, I'll massage the oil over it. This winter I've been using avocado oil, but there are lots of options. Jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter are also excellent choices. Lotions are nice and all, but they always seem to contain alcohols which can be drying and irritating to the skin. For heavy duty moisture, reach for single oils.
Tip #4: Try Chamomile and Calendula for painful, red, rashy, cracked skin
If dry skin has progressed to the point of pain, consider taking a skin-and-soul-soothing Chamomile bath and following up with Calendula-infused olive oil. Of course, contact your doctor or dermatologist if there's a chance your issues can be caused by a health condition or allergic reaction.
Chamomile bath instructions: Get a bulk bag of dried Chamomile flowers or a box of Chamomile tea bags, steep a strong tea (2 tsp herb per 8oz water), steep for ~20 to 40 minutes, covered, and then add to warm bath water. You can also add 1 cup of finely ground oatmeal to the bath (grind it in your blender) or purchase colloidal oatmeal. Immerse your skin and soak long and often.
Oral supplementation with fish oil reduces dryness and pruritus in the acetone-induced dry skin rat model, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0923181115300207
Is Oral Omega-3 Effective in Reducing Mucocutaneous Side Effects of Isotretinoin in Patients with Acne Vulgaris?, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5996413/
Oatmeal Bath Information, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/colloidal-oatmeal-baths