Bye-bye to dry
By Claudia M. Caruana
IS WINTRY WEATHER making your skin
look and feel like an alligator’s?
Cold temperatures plus blustery winds,
outdoor activities, even hot rooms at home
and work, can contribute to uncomfortable
flaky and dry skin.
When temperatures plunge and humidity
goes down, your skin can take a beating. This
occurs because the top layer is unable to hold
on to its natural moisture due to the hostile
environment. The results can be unsightly
flakes, scales and itching.
Here are a few simple things you can do
now to prevent troubled skin, plus suggested
skin-care products that will make your epidermis, and you, feel more comfortable.
• A long, hot shower on a cold morning
sounds inviting, but, says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi,
a dermatologist in private practice in
Washington, D.C., “Hot water actually dries
out the skin. Try using warm water, and keep
your showers under 10 minutes.”
• Gently apply skin cream or lotion after
you get out of the shower or after washing your
hands. Your hands take a beating, not only
from the soap you use, but also from alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which is very drying.
• What you wear is also important. Tanzi
notes that wearing soft, natural fabrics such as
cotton under heavier clothing, even as a liner,
helps your skin breathe and will not irritate
already parched skin.
• Turning up the heat indoors makes the
air very dry. The solution: A portable humidifier in your home will add much-needed
moisture to the air and increase your comfort.
Cream of the crop
When choosing a cream or lotion, Dr.
Elma Baron, a dermatologist at University
Hospitals, Case Medical Center, in Cleveland,
EACH FEBRUARY the American Dental
Association (ADA) sponsors National
Children’s Dental Health Month to raise
awareness of the importance of oral health.
More than 19 percent of children ages
2 to 19 have untreated cavities, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, which recommends that a
child’s complete preventive dental program should include fluoride, twice-daily
brushing, wise food choices and regular
visits to the dentist.
Proper tooth brushing is critical to
good dental hygiene. Parents can help
their children practice proper brushing by
starting to clean teeth early. Here are
other things you can do to ensure good
oral health for your child.
• Encourage your children to eat
regular nutritious meals and to avoid
frequent between-meal snacking.
• Use a fluoride toothpaste. (For
children younger than 7 years old, use
only a pea-size amount on their toothbrush. Before introducing fluoride toothpaste to children younger than 2 years
of age, seek advice from a dentist.)
• If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist or physician about
the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
• Learn from your child’s dentist
how dental sealants can protect teeth
• Floss teeth daily.
The ADA provides a planning guide
for teachers and parents, with resources
to promote the benefits of good oral
health to children. Search for “children’s
dental health month” at
for your health
says it is important to read labels and directions and check ingredients and their purpose in the product. Many brands offer
fragrance-free creams and lotions for individuals with sensitive skin.
For extremely dry skin, Baron recommends creams and lotions with ingredients
such as ceramides, urea, lactic acid and dime-thicone. Most products, unless otherwise
directed, should be used twice a day.
Ask a pharmacist if you have questions
about ingredients in the skin-care products
you are considering. If you have diabetes, a
chronic skin condition such as psoriasis or
eczema or another serious health issue, speak
with your dermatologist for skin-product
suggestions right for you. Baron says,
“Prescription moisturizers that have larger
amounts of specific therapeutic ingredients
might be prescribed by your dermatologist if
over-the-counter products are not working.”
She also says it is just as important to use
sunscreen on your exposed hands and face
at this time of year as in the summer. You
might want to look for facial moisturizers
that include sunscreen as an ingredient, with
a rating of SPF 15 or higher for daily use and
SPF 30 or higher for outdoor recreational use,
After spending a day in heavy socks or
boots, feet can become uncomfortable and
extremely dry. The body creams you use for
the rest of your body might not work well
for your feet. Tanzi recommends that you
“look for creams with both glycolic acids
and urea. Both ingredients help exfoliate
thick calluses and dry skin to keep feet soft,
even in the winter.” C
Claudia M. Caruana is a New York–based
health and medical writer.
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a video
about proper tooth brushing.
(See page 12 for details.)
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find items to help
keep their teeth and skin healthy. For teeth,
you’ll find manual and electronic tooth-brushes, floss, toothpaste, mouthwash,
sugarless gum and more at Costco and on
Costco.com. For skin, you’ll find a variety
of skin-care products in the health section.