Updated 03/04/2013 05:00 AM
Healthy Living: Healing dry, cracked skin
The dry skin problem becomes a bigger issue in the winter; because there's less humidity, both in the atmosphere and with the heat in your house. Our Katie Gibas reports.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If your hands and feet are dry and cracked, you're not alone.
"Almost every patient who comes in pretty much has a certain degree of dry skin," said Dr. Joyce Farah, an Upstate University Hospital Dermatologist.
The dry skin problem becomes a bigger issue in the winter because there's less humidity, both in the atmosphere and with the heat in your house. Plus, those long, hot showers and baths also take their toll on the skin.
Dry skin can be more than just an annoyance.
"It can actually keep people up at night. That's how uncomfortable it can be when it gets to be very severe. And you can have these very large, red, inflamed blotches all over," said Farah.
Chris Guyette, a Rite Aid Pharmacist added, "Obviously if it cracks, then you're concerned about infection, especially around your elderly populations or diabetic patients."
Dermatologists and Pharmacists recommend moisturizing several times a day with an unscented cream lotion. The most crucial times are within three to four minutes of taking your shower and every time you wash your hands.
"You need to look for moisturizers that have ceramides because those are some of the lipids that we do have in the skin layer. Moisturizers that have glycerin, CoQ Enzymes are good," said Farah.
But if you've already let your skin get past being dry and itch to being cracked and bleeding, don't worry. There's still plenty you can do. Experts said during the day, you might want to apply Neosporin to reduce the chances for infection. And at night, you'd want to apply a thicker petroleum-based ointment.
"Cracked skin needs moisture more than anything, and those ointment bases have a large amount of water in there, which will provide a lot of moisture back to the area. You can apply gloves or socks on and apply that at night, and it allows it to soak in all night," said Guyette.
Aside from applying lotions and creams, experts recommend drinking a lot of water and eating antioxidant-rich foods like green vegetables to promote better skin health.