Radiant, soft and velvety

THE cold days of winter are just about to make us shiver and you can't wait to cuddle up with your man on the couch near the hearth. But before you jump for joy at the pleasures of wintertime, make sure that your skin is in good shape.

THE cold days of winter are just about to make us shiver and you can't wait to cuddle up with your man on the couch near the hearth. But before you jump for joy at the pleasures of wintertime, make sure that your skin is in good shape.

Dermatologist Nathasha Bond says dry skin is very common during winter because there is no moisture in the air. The artificial heat indoors and in cars aggravate the problem.

She says heaters and a lack of humidity can dry out skin too. Bond says though some people only have mildly dry skin, others end up with nasty problems such as cracked, flaking and itching skin and skin that is generally problematic.

"Taking care of your skin during winter is important so you can avoid problems," Bond says.

Heinz Maurer, the doctor who developed the Sebamed skin range, says exposure to cold air robs our skin of its natural healing ability, and this leads to itching, dryness, sensitivity and flakiness.

Maurer says: "Taking care of your skin during the winter is very important so as to avoid the problems of dry winter skin."

Maurer offers some good tips on how to avoid suffering from dry skin during winter:

lDo not scratch itchy skin;

lSee a dermatologist to get a qualified diagnosis and drug treatment;lDo not use soap or neutral skin cleansers, but rather wash your skin with pH 5,5 cleansing bars such as Liquid Face and Body Wash; Baby Cleansing bars, Baby Bubble Bath;

For showering, use a soap-free, pH 5,5 products with a high oil content. Don't shower for longer than 10 minutes and preferably only once a day. Use water that is not warmer than 35ºC;

lAvoid having long baths;

lApply cream or lotions to your skin daily;

lChoose skin care products with pH 5,5. These products help restore the deficient barrier function of your skin against water loss;

lUse creams and lotions with high moisturising, emollient and protective efficacy;

lIdentify trigger factors for flare-ups and try to avoid them. If you are stressed, try relaxation techniques. Yoga and autogenous training are excellent for health and stress;

lInstal an air-humidifier in air-conditioned rooms or open windows every few hours;

lWhen using any skin care products, always try these on your forearm first and only then on the rest of your body, just in case you have an allergic reaction to them.

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