By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We love our Minnesota winters, but we all know they come with a few side effects, like very dry skin.

When the temperatures drop, so does the amount of water in the air, which can lead to flaky, itchy spots all over our bodies.

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So, what is the best way to combat dry skin?

“You want to hydrate your skin and you can do that two ways,” said University of Minnesota Health dermatologist Peter Lee. “You can drink a lot of water, hydrate from the inside, but you really need to hydrate from the outside, too.”

Dr. Lee says when there’s low humidity in the air, the lack of moisture affects our skin. Our skin has a layer of moisture surrounded by lipids that protect it from escaping.

“When it’s dry, the moisture is evaporated from your skin. Along with it, you lose a lot of the protective areas that are on top of the skin,” he said.

Dr. Lee recommends creams over lotions because creams tend to have less water and more lipids.

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“You can even buy Crisco for the kitchen and that works just as well as some of the moisturizers out there,” Lee said.

He says generic, inexpensive moisturizers can work well, and he advises his patients to use moisturizers with an ingredient called “ceramide.” He says some people should avoid really heavy lotions or creams or ones that cause acne, but rather use products that are tailored for your particular type of skin.

As for when to lather up, he says it’s more important to do rather than worry about when you do it. You could put on moisturizers at night and in the morning just after a shower because when you’re still damp, it’s easier to trap some of that water in your skin.

According to Dr. Lee, men are less likely to use lotions and creams, and end up in the dermatologist’s office for dry skin.

“The key thing is you want to be preventative, you want to be proactive,” he said.

People should also avoid harsh soaps that can remove the lipids from your skin. Hot showers can also dry out skin more quickly.

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“That’s the professional opinion,” Dr. Lee said. “But that’s really tough to do for anyone who lives in this climate.”

Humidifiers are also helpful, as long as they are close by.

Heather Brown