Jack Frost does more than nip at your nose … he nips at your whole body, leaving about 81 million Americans suffering from dry, cracked skin each winter, according to the National Health Interview Survey.
Dry winter air and frigid temperatures can strip your skin of oils and water, damaging the protective outer layer. Once the protective layer is damaged, your skin can quickly become cracked, itchy and irritated. Dr. Lisa Benest, a board certified dermatologist, explains on The National Skin Care Institute’s Web site:
“The Department of Dermatology at the University of Iowa Hospital describes healthy skin as “a multi-layer cake covered by a single sheet of clear plastic food wrap to keep it fresh.
The plastic food wrap prevents the frosting and underlying layers of the cake from drying out by preventing loss (evaporation) of the water from the cake into the air. It is the moisture in the cake that gives it its freshness. The outermost layer of the skin, which acts like the plastic food wrap and is about the same thickness, is called the stratum corneum.
The stratum corneum consists of dead skin cells embedded in a mixture of natural oils (lipids) that are made by underlying living skin cells. These natural skin oils keep the water inside our body from escaping into the air and also keep irritating substances and germs from entering the body.
Both the skin oils and the dead skin cells hold a certain amount of water in the stratum corneum and it is this stratum corneum water that helps keep the skin soft, pliable and smooth.”
Dry, cracked skin is not only painful; it can leave an opening for germs to enter your body. Fortunately, there are natural methods you can use to keep your skin supple and soft even in the middle of a cold, icy winter.