Winter Skin Tips
Aging Matters

The cold and dry season is here and it can leave your skin itchy, red, and irritated. Combat dry winter skin with these tips for retaining your skin's natural moisture. And if you have diabetes, it's especially important to keep the skin soft and supple.

Keep the dry areas moist

Moisturizer helps fill in gaps and cracks in the skin. The cream helps restore elasticity, and protect the skin from infections. Use a moisturizer wherever your skin is dry; don't use moisturizer in damp areas, such as between your toes and inner thighs, or under your arms. Moisturizing ingredients include glycerin, petrolatum, lanolin, wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, mineral oil, borage oil, argan oil, and safflower and pomegranate seed oils. Dry the moist areas.

If you have diabetes, it puts you at a higher risk for fungal skin infections, especially in chronically moist areas. Use a powder, such as talcum powder, in places where skin touches skin, between toes, under arms, and between upper thighs. If you're uncertain what to use, your doctor can direct you toward good quality products.

  • Avoid spending too much time in hot water. It can remove the oil from skin. In the winter time, take short showers using warm water not hot. Use a mild soap-free cleanser or a moisturizer body wash, and apply moisturizer to dry areas right after towelling off.
  • The winter sun can give a sunburn-especially in high altitudes. Use a SPF 30 or above sunscreen, and apply at least 30 minutes before going out.
  • Take special care of minor skin injuries and irritations. Wash cuts and scratches right away, and see your doctor if you develop wounds that won't heal or appear to worsen. The feet are particularly vulnerable in people with diabetes.
  • Keep sugar levels managed. People with high glucose levels tend to have dry skin and less ability to fend off harmful bacteria. If you have skin issues, your blood sugar is not managed properly. Talk to your doctor about all of the options for diabetes management.

People with diabetes who have kidney, nerve, and eye damage may experience bacterial and fungal skin infections, and more cases of "diabetic foot." If you experience frequent skin issues, get a total health checkup, as most of the complications of diabetes are managed when diagnosed early.

And remember, when skin is dry, you can help by eating foods or supplements that contain omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. It is important to help the skin moisten from the outside.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned the Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.



Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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