Dr. Mary Finnegan – Omaha World Herald – Skin’s Best Friend: Banish Winter Dryness with Lotions, Body Creams and Lip Balms

Published Saturday December 9, 2007
Skin’s Best Friend, Banish Winter Dryness With Lotions, Body Creams and Lip Balms
World Herald Staff Writer

The presents are neatly wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree; the stockings are all hung in a row.  You’re ready for that kiss beneath the mistletoe.  You reach for your lover’s hand and make contact with…sandpaper.

The soft lips that you kissed under the summer sky are now winter dry.  Despair not.  Dry hands and lips can be restored.

A decrease in humidity is the main trigger for dry skin during the winter months, said Dr. Mary Finnegan, a dermatologist at Braddock Finnegan Dermatology, PC in Omaha.

For eczema sufferers, winter can be especially rough.  Limited sun exposure can exacerbate eczema, an inflammation of the skin’s upper layers.

Weather conditions such as wind and cold also dehydrate the skin.

The key to beating dry winter hands and lips is prevention.
“Choosing the correct cleansing bars and body creams is adequate to avoiding dry skin for most people,” Finnegan said.

Creams are more moisturizing than lotions.  People with eczema and psoriasis benefit from topical corticosteroid creams and ointments, while those with inherited dry skin conditions such as ichthyosis, a skin disease, benefit from ammonium lactate and salicylic acid creams and lotions, Finnegan said.

It’s important to liberally apply moisturizers to the skin within three minutes of leaving the shower, Finnegan said.  She recommends nonsoap cleansing bars.  Dove Sensitive Skin and Cetaphil bars are excellent products that won’t strip moisture from the skin.
“As pure soaps tend to pull moisture from the skin, nonsoap clansing bars are also key preventative factors,” she said.

Finnegan recommends creams such as Vanicream, Eucerin, Cetaphil, Aveeno and Acid Mantle.  Finnegan also suggests looking for the ingredient dimethicone, a silicone oil usded in skin and hair products.  Dimethicone is an excellent water sealant and is found in products such as Cetaphil Therapeutic Hand Cream, TheraSeal and Theraplex, which are designed to treat and prevent dry hands.

Handsome Hands

For Jacque Diez of Council Bluffs, getting paraffin dips followed by covering her hands with mitts to let the oils of the wax penetrate the skin is not only relaxing, but leaves her skin soft and supple.

Diez applies hand lotion frequently, especially after she washes her hands.

“I keep a lotion dispenser right by my kitchen sink, a small bottle in my care, and of course by my bed,” Diez said.

She receommends products made by Ahava, which contain Dead Sea salts, a great exfoliator, and Crative Nail Design’s SolarManicure.  She looks for ingredients with sweet almond, jojoba dn wheat germ oils.

“Products sold in grocery or drug stores are often less expensive, but can be runny, less emollient and too fragrant.  Most aren’t allergy tested either,” Diez said.  “You need to read the label and if the first ingredient is water, you know that is what you are getting the most of in the product.”
Omahan Jeanne Roubidoux uses any kind of lotion that’s around.  She prefers BeautiControl hand cream because it stays on.  She uses moiturizing soap regularly.
“I also will do a sugar scrub when my hands start looking really alligatory,” Roubidoux said.
Exfoliate thyself
It’s important to exfoliate with a moisturizing product to rid dead skin cells, said Annie Mumgaard, a consultant for The Body Shop At Home.  The Body Ship offers many exfoliating products to suit scent and skin preferences.  After exfoliating, try The Body Shop’s body butters or the Hemp line, which is popular with men.

The best prevention, Roubidoux said, is to wear gloves in the winter.

“I try to make sure I wear my gloves all the time when it is cold.  I think it really ehlps keep my hands from getting so horribly dried out.”

Lip service

As far as lips are concerned, there are no gloves for your kisser, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them from chapping.  Finnegan recommends petroleum jelly because it’s hypoallergenic, readily available and inexpensive.

If you’re not allergic to lanolin, try Aquaphor Healing Ointment.  Roubidoux swears by Aquaphor to heal her children’s chapped lips.
Diez exfoliates her lips with a gentle cleanser and always applies a moisturizing lip product at night.  She tries not to lick her lips because that can dry them out faster.  She uses a lip products from Philosophy called Kiss Me.  She also uses a lip products from Clinique’s All About Lips because it provides protection against the cold and can be worn alone or under lipstick.

No need to suffer

If regular hand creams, body lotions and lip balms don’t do the trick, consult your dermatologist who might recommend a prescription.  Eating a balanced diet righ in antioxidants such as berries, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach and drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day are essential for healthy skin, Finnegan said.  Avoiding caffeine and nicotine also is important.

Finnegan said if you notice increasing dryness despite preventive treatment, see a dermatologist.  You may have developed an allergy to a product’s ingredients, or may have developed a skin ailment that is more than just dry skin.


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