Dry air turns skin dry too

Dec. 28, 2012 at 10:21 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The secret to healthy and glowing skin during the winter is to nourish skin from the outside as well as the inside, a U.S. researcher says.

Dr. Michelle Tarbox, assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University, said there were some easy ways to regularly hydrate skin and prevent it from getting chapped or cracked.

"As the temperature drops and the heater is on, the indoor air gets dehydrated and your skin loses moisture from the environment," Tarbox said in a statement. "Water always moves downhill, even on a microscopic level, and when the level of moisture in the air drops due to the heating process, it practically sucks the water out of your skin."

To balance out the loss of moisture, Tarbox suggested plugging in a humidifier while sleeping as well as working. This can help replace the moisture lost in the air from the heating. However, she emphasized, it is also important to change the humidifier filters as recommended by the manufacturer and use distilled water instead of tap water for better results.

"Humidifying the air can reverse the process of skin dehydration and is particularly helpful for patients with dermatitis -- an itchy inflammation of the skin," she added.

Not only does the dry air make skin itch, but it can also affect the mucosal surfaces that include the mouth, eyes and nasal areas. When these are dehydrated, they increase your vulnerability to viral infections such as flu and cold viruses.

This is especially important to remember while traveling by airplane in winter. Mucosal surfaces can be moisturized with a simple over the counter saline spray.

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