It happens every year: You’re living your life, minding your own business, when all of a sudden…bam. Your skin decides it’s going to freak out and stay red, dry and itchy for the rest of the winter. Here’s what to do when you’re totally fed up and have tried everything.
GET A HUMIDIFIER AND USE IT ALL THE TIME
No exceptions. Especially that night you had four glasses of wine and a huge bowl of popcorn—your skin gets especially parched after drinking alcohol and eating salty foods. Dry, itchy patches are your signal to run a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom all night, every night. It’s the easiest way to add moisture into your everyday routine.
SLATHER ON COCONUT OIL
When over-the-counter lotion just isn’t cutting it, whip out the serious stuff: organic coconut oil. It’s a natural emollient (basically a fat that traps moisture in your skin), and it works best if you wet your skin in the shower before applying. One caveat: It’s reallllly greasy, so if you don’t have 20 minutes to wait around for it to absorb, add a small dollop to your regular moisturizer and you’ll still get the benefits.
DRINK MORE WATER
OK, be honest. Are you drinking those eight glasses of water a day? Like, actually? We thought not. Try to get at least half a gallon of plain old water (or seltzer) every day. And if you’re already doing that, drink more.
ZAP ITCHY SPOTS WITH ICE
If that one stubborn patch on your knee is driving you nuts, resist the urge to scratch at all costs. Instead, hold an ice cube directly on your skin for about ten seconds. Just like a sprained ankle, icing will numb and calm the area and reduce swelling. Repeat until it stops bugging you. (Then maybe follow it up with another dab of coconut oil.)
TRY ESSENTIAL OILS
Another quick fix for itchiness? Add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to your moisturizer. It calms irritated skin and smells nice, too. (Just remember—a little goes a long way. Otherwise, you’ll end up wafting like a candy cane.)
POP AN ANTIHISTAMINE
OK, let’s say you’re in dire straits and you keep waking up in the middle of the night to scratch your itchy, inflamed skin. Take an antihistamine, like Benadryl, to reduce swelling and keep the irritation down long enough to drift back to sleep. Just make sure you follow the label’s instructions and don’t take it more than a night or two in a row (while you get your coconut-oil routine on).
SHAVE YOUR LEGS SMARTER
In a perfect world, we’d ditch the razor from November through May. But if you must shave your legs in the winter, make sure you’re exfoliating first, shaving right at the end of your shower to soften coarse leg hair and swapping your shave gel out for a cream-based product.
GET A PRESCRIPTION FROM YOUR DOC
So you’ve tried absolutely everything on this list and still no relief? You might have eczema or another more serious skin condition. Your doctor can diagnose it and prescribe medication (usually an extra-strength hydrocortisone cream) to clear it up for the time being. So…is it June yet?