By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The early season extreme cold outside is bad enough, but many Minnesotans are suffering inside as well, with dry skin.

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This brutal weather can leave your skin dry and itchy. And it can lead to eczema — and even infection.

The mechanics at Paul Williams Tire and Auto Shop in Uptown know this well. Seven to eight times a day, that’s how often they step up to the sink at the shop.

“Mine’ll usually crack, usually the two index fingers,” mechanic Mitch Mullenbach said.

He says the salt and the chemicals on the road are especially tough on his skin.

“In this part of the country, this season is dry skin,” said Dr. Jaime L. Davis with Uptown Dermatology.

She says if skin gets dry enough, it can lead to dangerous infections, but it’s often preventable.

“In general, keep it simple, just go with fragrance free,” she said.

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Those are key words, she says, when it comes to buying lotions or soaps. “Unscented” items are sometimes full of extra chemicals to mask the original smell.

Davis suggests using a fragrance free cream or ointment as opposed to lotion.

“Keep it right in the shower and sort of squeegee off the excess water, but put your moisturizer on immediately after you turn the shower water off,” she said. “Do not get out and wait, as soon as you get out of the shower, you feel that coolness, and that means the water is evaporating out of your skin.”

Don’t even open the shower curtain, she says, till you’ve moisturized.

Gentle moisture based soaps are also key, Davis  says.

Another tip: Cool it on those hot showers.

“We crank up the temperature this time of year to kind of get that little comfort on a cold morning, and that just dries out the skin,” Davis said.

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And for chronic hand washers, she says moisturize while the palms are still wet.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield