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Are your shower habits hurting your skin?

Kelly Audette, Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Fashion Daily News

There’s nothing quite like a nice long hot shower. But, for those who suffer from dry skin, a change in their daily routine may be essential to keeping it at bay.

Time and temperature

According to Thomas Knackstedt, M.D., a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, when it comes to dry skin, the way we shower can contribute to the problem. Especially if it is during the colder, winter months.

“It’s our habits; so as it gets colder, we tend to take longer and warmer or hotter showers, said Dr. Knackstedt. “We’re not as good about moisturizing because we want to get our clothes on quickly.”

Dr. Knackstedt suggests that folks cut back on the time and temperature to avoid drying the skin.

“Patients who really struggle with the dryness and irritation of their skin, I do recommend shorter and lukewarm showers because the hot water does, ironically, leech out some of the moisture in the skin,” said Knackstedt.

Lotion vs. cream

Knackstedt said that over time, if skin gets too dry it actually becomes inflamed and that’s when it gets really uncomfortable and itchy.

 

For those who have tried dialing down the temperature and are still having issues with dry skin, he recommends switching from a lotion moisturizer to a cream moisturizer.

“I always recommend a cream over a lotion, simply because cream is much thicker, which means it’s messier to apply, but you get a lot more moisturizing effect out of it,” said Knackstedt.

For those with exceptionally dry skin, a petroleum jelly-type product can be helpful too.

Knackstedt said people who have very sensitive skin should avoid applying any moisturizer that might have potential irritants or allergens in it — like unnecessary fragrances or preservatives.

Dry off wisely

It’s also important to pay attention to how we dry off once we’re out of the shower, because that can impact the skin too.

“The key is applying a cream or a petroleum jelly-like product ideally within two to three minutes of stepping out of the shower,” said Knackstedt. “Ideally even just patting dry instead of scrubbing your body completely dry and that helps lock in some of that moisture.”

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