It just seems to creep on you every year, round-about the same time .... AND before you know it, your legs are itching furiously through your clothes, in bed at night and you cannot seem to get any relief from dry, itchy, winter skin!
Even those with the most disciplined of face and body routines succumb to itchy, winter skin and why? Quite simply, winter is the time to call in the hydration "big guns", ramp up on the moisturiser stakes and address both internal and external factors. Here are my top tips on how to say goodbye to dry itchy skin and hello soothed, hydrated skin.
1. Moisturise and then moisturise some more!
All the studies have shown that the best treatment for Winter Itch is prevention and that prevention is the richest moisturiser possible. Try to moisturise at least once a day.
2. Wear cotton, silk and bamboo, especially close to your skin
You may have noticed that you are more itchy when your wear particular fabrics, particularly itchy textures, like wool and scratchy flannel. If it tends to flare up at night, consider switching to these soft, breathable fabrics for your sleepwear.
3. Take a Warm Bath before bed
Research has shown that a warm bath before bed can make a big difference to Winter Itch, particularly if the itch drives you mad at bedtime (as it often the case).
Super-hot baths and showers may be good for the soul but not so good for the skin and may dry it out even further. Hot water will strip the skin of its natural skin-protecting oils so as difficult as it may seem, avoid the temptation of super-hot water and keep your baths and showers warm.
4. Infuse your bath with some oil
Adding a hydrating bath oil, like QED Skincare's The Bath Oil helps calm itchiness whilst also moisturising the skin. (and adding your favourite, calming scent will help lull you off to sleep ...) Follow up with a rich moisturiser, and your body will feel immediately soothed.
5. Stick to a gentle, soap free body wash
Not stripping the skin of its natural oils is key to preventing and treating the itch. I therefore always suggest choosing a gentle, soap-free body wash which will cleanse, soothe and protect the skin.
6. Exfoliate the flake away
Exfoliating the skin is really important to remove the dead, flakey top surface of your skin and allow your moisturiser to penetrate effectively. (Do you realise that when you moisturise dry, scaly skin, most of your product gets absorbed into the dry flakes, which really is a waste of good product and effort) Exfoliate the body, particularly the legs and arms (which is where most winter itch occurs) 1-2 times a week to keep dead skin cells at bay with a gentle body exfoliator.
7. Apply a moisturiser immediately after bathing
Moisturise your skin immediately after you shower or bathe. This is the most effective way to help seal in moisture while your skin is still damp. Choose a rich body moisturiser that will help lock in the moisture and prevent evaporation.
8. Turn off the heater in your bedroom
If it is freezing in your bedroom, perhaps pop on the heating before you go to bed but switch the heating off when you get into bed. It is much better for your skin to sleep with an extra layer on (or good old bedsocks)
9. Add humidity to your environment
Running a humidifier (especially in your bedroom) can help prevent the skin from drying out. The added moisture in the air will help improve your dry or itchy skin, peeling or chapped lips and can also help with sleeping. It can also help with dry throats and noses.
10. Drink up
The temptation is to drink less water in the colder months because you may not feel as thirsty - Very naughty! You may not be sweating, but your body needs just as much water in winter as it does in the summer. Hydration is key to keeping your skin healthy, supple and itch free. Drinking more can also stop your lips from flaking. If your lips are dry, drink 3 cups of water, wait 30 mins and you will feel instantly re-hydrated. A trick my mum taught me - it always works - try it !
Oh and just in case you didn't hear me the first time round, moisturise and moisturise some more!
Want to learn all about WInter itch, including what causes it and how to identify it? Click here to read: Winter Itch - It's a Medical Condition