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Don't Let Dry Skin Drive You to Distraction!

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Q. This never-ending winter has been devastating to my skin. The cold air dries me out. Shoveling snow and washing my hands repeatedly makes my skin super rough and red. My knuckles are raw and the tips of my fingers are splitting. The skin on my legs is so dry and itchy that I can hardly stand it. I start scratching and can't stop until the skin begins to bleed.

I tried a suggestion that I read in your newsletter about using instant glue on my fingertips, but it burned something terrible. I am looking for a solution that will actually heal the splits and protect my knuckles. Do not suggest petroleum jelly. I hate the greasy feeling!

A. You may want to ease up on the soap and water hand washing. Although we recognize that public health officials constantly remind everyone to wash hands to avoid catching colds or the flu, repeated washing will strip your skin of protective oils. Cetaphil (or its generic counterpart) is a non-irritating cleanser and moisturizer that might help.

We recently heard from a visitor to this website that Udderly Smooth cream works "far better than instant glue and is a lot less toxic" for painful split fingertips. She went on to say that, "The cream makes the difference between being miserable and not having painful cracks around my nails."

Full disclosure dictates that we tell you that Redex Industries, the makers of Udderly Smooth Creams and Lotions, underwrites our radio show and helps keep The People's Pharmacy on the air. That said, we are especially impressed with their Extra Care 20 formula with 20% urea. This ingredient is a professional-strength moisturizer and protector. Dermatologists have recognized urea for its ability to protect the barrier function of the skin for a long time.

People with diabetes are especially vulnerable to skin problems. Quite often their skin becomes dehydrated and dry, despite drinking lots of water during the day. The barrier function of the skin becomes especially vulnerable when air is dry during the winter. A report in the Journal of Cosmetic Science (Sept-Oct, 2013) reports that urea helps hydrate and protect the outer layer of the skin.

Anyone who would like Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream with 20% urea may be interested in our Winter Skin Survival Kit, with two tubes of Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream and three (+ 1 free) tubes of Pomegranate All Natural Lip Care. 

This nasty weather can't last forever, but in the meantime, protect your skin with 20% urea to avoid the itching and bleeding. Here is a link to all our body care products.

Share your own secrets for dealing with dry skin during winter  in the comment section below.

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11 Comments

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Too bad the writer doesn't like petroleum jelly, but for those who don't mind it, I find it the best thing for lips and hands. My lips used to get so chapped that they would peel and the skin above my upper lip was red and raw. I tried a lot of things but the only one that worked was petroleum jelly. Now I carry a purse-sized jar around and rub it on my lips during the day in the winter.

I too suffer from winter dry skin and have a hard time finding a suitable lotion. Unfortunately I am also one of many people who are allergic to lanolin. Does the Udderley Smooth lotion company make a lanolin-free version?

Try using a small amount of a Baby Oil Gel product with your favorite dry skin moisturizer. I have found that to be the best answer to dry, itchy skin in winter.

I have dry skin and for years suffered with sore cracks on my thumbs.

I read about Udderly Smooth Cream in your newspaper column, searched for it, finally found it at a CVS store and bought the only two jars they had.

I gave one to my daughter-in-law who is a nurse who has to wash and disinfect her hands frequently. Within a short time my sore cracks healed as did hers and with regular use have not reappeared.

I now carry a tube with me as does my daughter-in-law. Another plus,the price is affordable. Thank you

Bathe, not shower. Get some Vaseline bath oils and pat dry afterwards rather than rub dry. When my skin is extra dry I put all kinds of things on it, but only Sarna relieves the itch. When even that didn't work I called my dermatologist and she said put hydrocortisone on it and that worked, though why is a mystery to me. In wet weather I don't do any of this.

Been there with the dry skin! I solved the problem from the inside out. About 14 years ago I started using Organic coconut oil and it has made some incredible changes in my body. Skin is just one thing, my weight is the other.

Even my family Dr. of over 20 years commented on how amazing my skin is for someone my age. I wasn't quite 68 at the time.

My afternoon treat is a hot chocolate made with about 3 TB of coconut oil, coco powder, stevia, a bit of cinnamon, hot water and cream. Mix the cocoa with the oil first to emulsify it.

One word of advice. Start very slowly with the oil. It will clean out your liver so your bowel movements will be pretty gross.

I also use a lotion with coconut oil too and I do use it about once a week in the summer on my arms and legs and a little dab after washing my hands. Winters more frequently of course.

Almost forgot to mention the weight. I've lost about 100 pounds without dieting since starting this regimen!

The best thing I have found for splitting skin on fingers is zinc oxide diaper cream. Mild or single splits will heal overnight. The brand Desitin is preferred. The generic smells awful.

It is also much more effective than fungal cream for skin fold dermatitis (think rash under pendulous breasts. For mild cases relief is overnight. More serious cases may require a couple of days. Fungal cream takes forever and many applications.

I'm really surprised you haven't tumbled to this. I have psoriasis and pendulous breasts and couldn't live without it.

In response to your recent comments on dry skin, I have a tube of 50% Urea Ointment containing Vitamin E, lactic acid and zinc. I've had this tube for several years, and do not remember why I got it (probably for dry skin). I would appreciate it if you would advise me how this compares clinically to the 20% ointment, and also if it is o.k. to mix it with diphenhydramine and/or hydrocortisone.

Thank you.

I clean my face with (organic) coconut oil; smooth it on both hands and face when either feel dry; add a bit to quality hand cream/lotion before applying at night. I cook with it, too. It's cheap and has good amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E. You will find many websites listing its usefulness.

This year I had several cracks on the corner of my thumb that were very deep. Just using my hands for daily activities kept breaking the skin deeper, and I would almost be in tears from the pain. I remembered my mom always kept a product called NewSkin in her bowling bag to paint over cuts or cracks when she bowled. I was happy to find that it's still made. It's like a liquid bandage, so it prevents water or anything else from getting down into the cuts. I painted it on several times daily for a week or so, and the cuts are no longer sore, and much less deep. The NewSkin has a fairly strong smell, but didn't burn or hurt when I painted it on the very sore cuts.

I bought the the Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 and was extremely disappointed to read the ingredients and find it contains parabens! I won't be purchasing it again until the parabens are removed!

People's Pharmacy response: Redex is working on a paraben free formulation, but we don't know when that will be available.

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