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Cool winter weather can bring a wealth of skin and hair problems with it. The cold weather, combined with the drying central heating systems indoors means that many of us suffer with dry skin through the winter. Learn how to soothe it with these tips.

If you have dry, itchy, flaky skin, you want to soothe it - and you want to soothe it fast. But through the winter months, a combination of the freezing cold weather outside and the warm, dry environment indoors can add up to dry, dull skin. Household irritants, such as cleaning fluids, or even things like chlorine from the swimming pool, perfumes, certain moisturizers and even the makeup that you use can all dry your skin out. Learn how to recognize what causes your dry skin and how to fix it with these tips.

Causes of Dry Skin

There are literally hundreds of causes of dry skin - weather, temperature fluctuations, household irritants, lifestyle and the products you use on your skin. When washing dishes for example, keeping your hands submerged in water and detergent can cause dryness. Cool winter weather dehydrates skin and the hot air of the central heating system can dry it out even further.

Certain cleaning products can also cause dryness, and if you're an avid swimmer, you could find that your skin is a little bit dryer due to the chlorine in the pool.

Perfumes, moisturizers and makeup can all dry skin out, too. Identify what might be causing your dry skin and then you can work towards using barrier creams and moisturizers - or just avoiding the irritant altogether.

Is it Dry Skin or Eczema?

There's a huge difference between dry skin and eczema, so it's important that you know whether you're dealing with dry skin or eczema before you start treatment. Eczema is characterized by a rash, and the skin affected by eczema is typically very dry and can be thickened or scaly. Eczema patches are often red and flaky and are almost always itchy. Eczema is treated by making a few lifestyle changes and by using medicated creams, rather than moisturizers and barrier creams - so if you're unsure, pay a visit to your doctor for a diagnosis. They'll be able to tell whether it's eczema by examining the area and by asking you a few questions.

Not Too Hot

You might think that a relaxing soak in a hot bath with plenty of moisturizing bath liquid will help to nourish your skin - but it could actually have the opposite effect. Water that is too hot will dry skin out, as it strips your skin of its natural oil barrier, which is what helps to lock moisture in and keep skin smooth and supple. Without it, skin will be dry and flaky. Soaking in water for too long can also dry skin out further and most skin experts recommend taking short, warm - not hot! - baths and showers that take no longer than ten minutes. So if you're a big fan of hot baths but you're struggling with dry skin, you'll have to say farewell to them, unfortunately!

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