With the cold and lower humidity air of winter comes dryer skin. Though many people may hardly notice the change beyond anything more than slightly tighter skin, for others this time of year may mean mildly itchy or flaky skin all the way to more serious issues with cracks and actual bleeding due to excessive skin dryness. Try out some of these tips if you’re one of those out there seeking relief from dry, winter skin issues.

Take shorter showers

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive, right? After all, how can your skin dry out if you’re standing underneath a stream of water? Long showers – particularly hot showers – can wash away your skin’s natural, oily layer and leave it susceptible to losing moisture. A single five-minute, lukewarm shower per day with perfume- and deodorant-free soap is a great strategy, as is applying moisturizer to your skin while it’s still damp after your bath or after you wash your hands. And when it comes to lotions and moisturizers, the thicker and slicker the better! In fact, mineral oil and petroleum jelly are very effective and inexpensive moisturizers, though admittedly a bit impractical for day-to-day use. Also, pat yourself dry with a towel after you bathe instead rubbing, as it minimizes damage to your skin.

Protect your extremities

In addition to using lotion after each time you wash your hands (which you’re probably doing more in the winter than other seasons due to cold and flu germs), remember to wear gloves outside, as well. You may even consider keeping a pair in your car for when you drive, as well. Moisturizing lotions will also promote healthy cuticles.

As if your feet don’t already take enough abuse, winter weather can be extra brutal to your tootsies. Exfoliating them regularly and a healthy dose of lotion underneath cotton socks while you sleep provide excellent protection against dryness.

While dry skin is not generally a serious risk to your health, lack of preventive measures or attention can lead to more serious conditions like eczema or even bleeding. Excessive scratching can also result in infections only treatable with antibiotics. If your dry skin symptoms are not subsiding using these tips or become more severe, a visit to an CareWell Urgent Care physician may help you with a prescription strength cream or even a more in depth look at other causes of dry skin, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.