Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Dry Skin War

Another day when the temperature outside is setting records on the low side. My heater has been running constantly, sucking the moisture out of the air like a vacuum. To make matters worse, I went walking this week in what I thought was balmy 30s but I forgot to add in the wind chill. My bad.  And then there has been my constant use of  alcohol based hand sanitizers because it is the evil flu and stomach virus season. I think a hazmat suit is in order over my deep arctic coat!

It was warmer on top of the Swiss Alps near a glacier than it is here in NC right now!

My skin decided it had enough. Or maybe it was me. My face was dry but my dishpan hands and hiking heels were awful. I mean like so disgusting I couldn't take pictures of myself. If you really want to know how bad dry skin can get, google it. I won't link to the pictures. Blech.

In my war against dry skin, I headed to Google. I learned I am at a higher risk for very dry skin thanks to a thyroid that doesn't work, diabetes in the family and being a woman in the prime of her middle aged life. Well, that explains a lot. My healthcare is up to date. Can't do anything about my age. So what's next?

Diet. Surely foods are important. And they are, to a point. Drinking lots of water. Making sure I eat foods with anti-oxidants. Keeping my sweet tooth at bay. The interesting thing about sugar is it causes inflammation in the body and that includes the skin. So what little sugar is left in my diet has been scrutinized! Studies go every which way on whether diet really improves skin dryness. But all of them say a healthy diet is important. I get to keep my warm milk, got a round of applause for cutting out all caffeine but my morning cup of tea, but need to up my water consumption.
A waterfall from our trip to Maui. Water. WARM! Oh, I mean lots of water!
That's the prevention part. Now to the war on what dry skin I have. Loads of weapons are in my arsenal:

 I love my dishwashing gloves from William-Sonoma (no latex). And remember to put them on!

My Curel Sensitive Skin in the large bottle It's easy to pump a dollop as I pass by.  

But then there are the heels. The cracked painful heels. Did you know you can get infections through severely cracked heels? Not to mention they snag on your fuzzy socks!

My plan of attack included soaking my feet and then scrubbing with a regular washcloth. Then I dried those tootsies and pulled out my secret weapon.

Pumice stone on a stick. Attack that dry skin over a towel to catch the flakes. Uck.

Next?
Good old-fashioned Vaseline. My grandmother swore by it. Me too. For the tough dry skin.

I put my slathered feet in plastic bags. If my hands are bad, I do that too.
  
Kind of weird but I slip on my slippers or ManO's stretched out socks over the bags and then leave them on for a couple of hours.  Note: I do not close the bags with elastic because I don't consider it safe. Usually, I  do my pampering while I'm watching a movie (see below) and not moving around because those things are slippery. OR I just put the socks on my feet as I am getting ready to bed, forgetting the bags. And voila! My feet look great in the morning!

Bonus: Movies to warm my tootsies and me up on a cold winter day? Anything Hawaiian or filmed n Hawaii. The Descendants with George Clooney comes to mind immediately. No clue why! Blue Hawaii. It is dated but still has some fun moments. But if you want to go the opposite way and go for places more frozen than you are, my top picks are: Frozen though you still have to leave your home for it, Dr. Zhivago (ah, Omar Sharif!), Groundhog Day, Ice Age and Happy Feet.

So what about you? How do you keep dry skin at bay in the winter or tame it if you have it? Do you believe certain foods can make a difference for your skin? And what about the movies that make you think warm, either by taking you off to a balmy place or an arctic one that makes you appreciate where you are?    



   

37 comments:

  1. I drink lots of decaf coffee with low cal hot cocoa mixed in. As for skin care.

    L'Occitane Shea Butter and Micro Pedi help!

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    1. You decadent thing you! I figure anything is better than worrying about catching something from a salon pedicure! But I love Occitane products when I can get samples!

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  2. Oh, this is interesting! I have two children was perpetually dry skin. I've used Eucerin fragrance free (because when your skin is cracked, those perfumes BURN) and Vaseline. I slather it on their hands and put socks on the hands and put them to bed!

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    1. Poor babies. My grandchildren had bad eczema and they did all sorts of things.

      You know me. Allergic to everything so fragrance free it is! And how much more basic is Vaseline!

      Do they keep the socks on?

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  3. I was just about to do some serious hunting for help...my problem is ITCHY! this heater is welcome for the heat but I get itchy and pretty much all my lotion is from Christmas gifts which means the worthless for dry skin alcohol based non-greasy stuff that smells like a bakery or flower shop...hard to sleep smelling all that plus it doesn't really work for anything but attracting a guy's attention though not so sure on that - eeks or worse what if they smell cake and think I'm fat because I've been eating so much cake I smell like cake?!. anyways...I have to wash my hands a lot at work and I like Gold Bond - the ultra or whatever it's called...for itchy the stinky green bottle one is good -has that cough drop smell to it...but the stuff works though would probably burn if the skin is cracked....Burt's Bees rocks but kinda pricey esp for the area I'd have to cover :-( but they have some foot cream that's soooo nice (think I'll go hunt for mine...) I used to have a glycerine one that was really greasy feeling but smelled good and felt good. have to wear socks with that stuff when I had it (store that sold it went out of business) and the Burt's Bees for sure
    for soap I use cetaphyl for my face and aveeno skin relief I think it's called for the rest of me - it says on the bottle sensitive skin or skin relief hypo whatever..hospital recommended it for my dad during one of his chemo treatments where the skin would be itchy and irritated and I already had the stuff and had been using it for over a year)
    my dad also used that udder cream or bag balm stuff - I tried the bag balm once and it burned but worked...might work more for chapping than actual cracking 'cause no way I'm putting that stuff on a cut or anything since it burned for a bit.
    hadn't thought about diet and foods playing a part. I know the dermatologist told me severay years ago to limit baths/showeres and not to have the water hot...I went on to plan B 'cause I ain't giving up my meditation time and hot water

    Susanna

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I remember oatmeal bathes as a kid when we had the chicken pox. Thanks for the reminder about Aveeno.

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    3. My sister was recommending the Gold Bond foot cream, but I haven't seen it in our stores.

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  4. There are hierarchies of lotion that we use, and we were at the second best, but DS is getting weird dry spots on his knees and elbows, so we will probably have to step up to the Gold Standard for him--Gold Bond.

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  5. Thanks for writing this! For this first time in my life I've been dealing with dry skin. I've been blaming it on the polar vortex, but I also have a sweet tooth and a family history of diabetes. I've been investigating lotions to see which one might work best since I've always used whatever lotion and been fine. It's strange to suddenly see little white flakes on my skin when I get out of the shower. I've heard of the Vaseline slathered on feet, so I'm going to give it a try. And water. I have a love-hate relationship with it. When I'm eating healthy, going to the gym....I love water. But over the holidays I slipped a little. Starting today I'm going to treat my skin to some tlc and drink lots and lots of water.

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  6. The cold is wicked this year, isn't it? Love your Swiss snowman by the way.

    Forced air heat is wrecking havoc on my skin too. This year I discovered Vaseline's cocoa radiant cream and love it. It's pure cocoa butter, absorbs really well (ie not greasy) and I've been using it on my feet twice a day and haven't had one pesky crack and I usually fight them the whole winter season. And man, are they painful. So I'm a convert.

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    1. Oh I've seen it. I will get the sample and try it!

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  7. There are several essential oils that are recommended for dry skin, and I have seen the effectiveness of lavender oil on my granddaughter, who at 3 is plagued with horrible exzema. For those who want to stay away from parabens, essential oils might be the answer.

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    1. Sadly I am allergic to lavender! But thanks for the additions.

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  8. I use a humidifier for winter and it works really well. No more dry skin.

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    1. We really need to add one! Thanks for the reminder.

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  9. Adding healthy saturated fats to your diet helps also. And I drink a lot of water.

    One thing I love to do to pamper my feet is to soak them in Johnson's Foot Soap (oooh, warm water!), and then slather on the Vaseline or other cream (Aveeno is my go-to moisturizer), and then warm socks for the rest of the night.

    Come to think of it, I haven't done that since we added a puppy to the family. Something about puppies and a dishpan of soapy water on the floor....no, not going there yet!

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  10. Thanks for all the suggestions, Julie and all! Going to Hawaii sounds best! I'm dreaming of a trip away from the cold, dry desert where I live. I did just buy Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. Smells delicious! I'm fortunate that fragrances don't bother me. So now I'm heading to that Hawaiian waterfall...beautiful!

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    1. Sounds like plan. Burts Bees is based in our area

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    2. I use Burts Bees cuticle cream every night--love it!

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    3. Keep buying it. It keeps NC employment up!!!

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  11. Belle, I blame the Polar Vortex for EVERYTHING!!!!! Or global warming. :)

    Julie, you know that with my kidlets, my hands are in water constantly. Olay's Hand Renewal soap has worked wonders on keeping them from cracking and bleeding the past two years. Who woulda thunk a soap would make that kind of difference, especially after I'd tried prescription soaps that did nothing. I'm totally an Olay Hand Renewal cheerleader now! And you know how cold this winter has been, Vortex and all! (laughing in frosty, snowy upstate.)

    The feet are a problem. I don't take time to pamper them and I should.... and I don't go for pedicures and I'd love that, but secreting the time.... and wearing flip-flops in January.... so I'm kinda whining here, just a smidge!!!

    Susanna, I've used bag balm. It's like a heavy duty vaseline/petroleum jelly but smells better and is more resistant to washing off. It's really great, I discovered it when I used to milk cows. We used it on their udders and it kept the irritation of milking to a minimum. It sounds funny.... but it works!!!

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    1. That soap sounds wonderful. I am a bag balm fan too!

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    2. Ruthy, I use the Olay Hand Renewal, and I suppose it has helped some, but I'm still cracking and bleeding. The latest is on the tip of my thumb. Do you know how many nerve endings are there? Ouchie. At night I cover it with a Neosporin topped bandaid, which seems to help it heal faster.

      As for the rest of my body, including feet, not much of a problem. I swear by Gold Bond body lotion. Doesn't matter the blend, they're all good. No more itching and scratching. I just hate hand lotion at any other time than bedtime, though. My hands are always in and out of water and I hate that slimy feeling it leaves on my hands when they get wet.

      Doesn't matter where we live, when that forced-air heat comes on it sucks the moisture right out of us. And when it's cold, I have to remind myself to drink water. Though, somehow, I still manage to get in my eight glasses a day.

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    3. I hate the tip of the thumb thing. My thumbs always get it the worst. What is with that! I am drinking water by the gallon.

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  12. Some great recommendations from everyone! Pedicures help for me. Plus a tub of body butter from The Body Shop that I keep near the tv to use often. I love Brazil Nut and Coconut.

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    1. That store is plain dangerous. Lots of good stuff.

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  13. Checking in here at the end of the day and laughing because my feet are slathered in vaseline and tucked inside my slippers. My hands are slathered in Curel but I have the Extra Healing one. I swear by Curel. It's the only thing that heals in a lasting way for me.

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    1. I've discovered Curel works best for me too. And Vaseline. We used to laugh at our grandmother about her "miracle" but not any more.

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  14. Ooh. I have to chime in.
    I and my family members have fought the dry, cracked, and sometimes bleeding knuckles in winter. And since I wash my hands A LOT with my job, skin moisture just goes down the drain. At least it used to. :-)

    It started when I got curious about making my own lip balm. (I was a chapstick-aholic..) I had decided I wanted to be able to pronounce the ingredients of the stuff I was putting on my lips. So I did some research and made my own batch of lip balm. It was surprisingly easy. Three ingredients. Beeswax. Olive Oil. Coconut Oil.

    It worked great for lip balm, and me and my siblings fell in love with it. Then I got to wondering again and started tweaking the ratios in the recipe to make the balm a bit softer. Instead of using it just for lip balm, we started using in on sore hands and feet at night like bag balm. Guess what? It works better than bag balm ever did.

    After using it for about three years now, no one in my family gets cracked skin anymore. It's a heavier, greasier product than a store-bought lotion, but it's surprising how quick skin will absorb the beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil mixture. A friend of mine got some from me this winter and came back for more because finally her sons and husband have found something to heal their sore hands. :-)

    It's really simple to make.
    All you need is beeswax (which you can find online or at Hobby Lobby), olive oil, and coconut oil, a double boiler, and a kitchen scale.
    Cut off a small chunk of the beeswax. Check how much it weighs on the kitchen scale and make note of the weight. Put the wax in the double boiler to melt.
    Measure out olive oil until the amount is double the weight of the wax. Add it to the beeswax once it has melted.
    Measure out coconut oil until the amount is double the weight of the wax. Add it to the melted beeswax and olive oil.
    Once it's all melted together, pour it into small containers and let cool. It will set up firm like a lotion bar.
    Smooth over dry skin at night and as needed.

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    1. Clari, I'm going to try this. It sounds wonderful!

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  15. That's great Clari. Thanks for the DIY instructions.

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    1. Have you guys tried super glue? When my fingers crack, I fill the fissures with Super Glue. It bonds the sides together and allows it to heal from within. So much better, instant healing, and the glue sloughs off once the new cells have formed.

      You can buy expensive derma-glues, but this works and it's recommended by lots of doctors. For a very low price, I can keep these crazy busy hands working! Before I discoverd that fun secret, I had to bandage the tips of my fingers and that puts a damper on your typing speed.

      AND IT HURTS to type with broken skin on the keys.

      Super Glue for cracks and the Olay hand renewal and the Curel cream.

      Those have been my major league helpers. Steroids did nothing for my hands, but that might be just me, fearing for my Major League Baseball career to go up in smoke! :)

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    2. My dermatologist suggested Superglue! So great.

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