Stop scratching now! Itchy skin relief tips for winter

Winter in Atlanta is a time for hot cocoa and cozy sweaters--not red itchy skin. If you'd rather scratch...

Winter in Atlanta is a time for hot cocoa and cozy sweaters--not red itchy skin. If you'd rather scratch your dry skin than enjoy the season, you need relief now. Dry skin, also known as pruritus, can be caused by hundreds of conditions ranging from medical illnesses, dermatological disorders and beauty products, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The usual suspects of itchy skin

Dry skin doesn't happen by accident. Browse this checklist to see why you might be itching and scratching.

Environmental factors: Is your house too dry? Install a humidifier on your furnace or as a free-standing unit. Keep your living space at approximately 40 percent humidity to keep skin moisturized naturally. Dry skin can also be caused by allergies to certain fabric. Do you notice an increase in itchy skin when you wear that favorite wool sweater or cuddle up with a flannel blanket?

Skin care: A rash is a common symptom of an allergic reaction to beauty products. The following items may be causing you more harm than good:

  • body lotion with moisture-wicking alcohol
  • body soap with dyes or perfume
  • eyeliner made with non-organic ingredients
  • lipstick made with wheat or corn byproducts

Possible illnesses: If you've recently been diagnosed with kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, cancer, eczema or a thyroid abnormality, dry skin is a common side effect. Discuss your skin problems with your local physician to determine the root cause of your discomfort. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction to one of your treatments or medications.

Curing itchy skin
If your idea of relaxation and relief is soaking in a hot bubble bath, stop it! You're actually causing your itchy skin to get worse. Hot water washes away the natural oils on your skin, leaving it more parched than before. To get immediate relief, add moisture to your skin by:

  • rubbing natural oils, such as jojoba or coconut oil, into unbroken, dry skin
  • placing a humidifier in the room where you are most of the day (this might be at work)
  • avoiding moisture-wicking clothes, such as wool or cotton, and slipping into silk or polyester

Give an Atlanta-area dermatologist a call for an appointment. The dermatologist may recommend a prescription-level anti-itch cream, an oral antihistamine or in-office skin care treatments. Don't suffer with itchy skin; seek relief today!

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