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You don’t have to begin the new year on a dry note! dermatologist Sachin Varma shows you the way

Most of us love winter — the absence of sweat, the cool breeze, the long dresses, the boots, the blazers, the late-night parties — they all make it special.

However, something that nobody likes about the season is the dryness and the skin problems that it brings. The dry breeze and low humidity strip away moisture, leaving the skin parched and dry. From scaly skin to cracked feet or chapped lips, there is many a malady... worse for those who have genetically dry skin. Further, pre-existing skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis, tend to flare up during winters. So here’s a guide to handling common skin problems during winter...

Dry facts

Dry skin is the most common problem. It is partially due to dehydration (since people drink less water) but also due to decreased sebum production (since the weather is dry). This problem is more acute in those with genetically dry skin.

Dealing with dry skin is all about trapping moisture in your skin and preventing it from becoming very dry.

Quick tips

1. Do not bathe more than once a day and do avoid hot water (sorry!) as it makes the skin dry.

2. Use soap sparingly; go for moisturising cream-based or glycerine-based soaps, which are mild on the skin.

3. Moisturise your skin repeatedly with oil-based moisturisers. Try to moisturise at least twice a day.

Lucky lips

Winter can make your lips dry and no amount of lip colour can cover those chapped puckers.

Quick tip

Apply an oil-based moisturising lip balm at least twice daily to prevent dryness.

Feet first

Go for a daily footcare routine rather than a pedicure once a month. Use mild cleansers to clean your feet. Apply oil-based creams twice daily to prevent your feet from drying and cracking. If severe cracks are seen, use salicylic acid or lactic acid-based creams to remove dead layers and smoothen the feet.

Cool radiance

Skin ailments get aggravated when there is dryness and loss of moisture. Also, woollen and synthetic clothes may aggravate eczema.

Quick tips

1. Moisturise regularly with prescribed moisturisers; use correct cleansers and moisturising soaps.

2. Avoid synthetic and heavy woollen garments which increase friction and stimulate allergic skin cells, leading to aggravation of eczema.

3. Layer up with thick cotton garments inside before you slip on woollens. Consult a dermatologist and treat skin ailments early to prevent them from worsening.

Tress trouble

Seborrheic dermatitis, or severe dandruff, can worsen significantly in cold weather. But there’s a way out.

Quick tips

1. Use the correct shampoo and keep your scalp clean to prevent aggravation.

2. Unlike other body parts, applying oil repeatedly on the scalp is a big mistake.

3. If needed, take medical advice.

here’s to a happy & glowing you in 2013

Use oil-based moisturisers rather than water-based ones. Oil creates a protective layer on the skin that helps retain more moisture than a cream or lotion. Apply liberally and frequently.

Soaking in a hot bath sure feels great but the intense heat of a hot shower or bath breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, leading to loss of moisture. Use lukewarm water instead.

Use milder soaps that don’t dry outyour skin.

Remember, sunscreen isn’t just for summer. The winter sun can also damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen on your face and hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going out. You can choose an oil-based sunscreen which can moisturise and protect you from the sun at the same time.

Dress in layers. The most common triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating. Wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics and pair them with warm sweaters or blazers on top.

Keep drinking water. Your skin tends to get dry in winter, so keep it hydrated.

Follow a diet that gives you plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables to keep the skin glowing from within.

Use toners and astringents sparingly in winter, for these are typically alcohol-based.