How to handle winter's toll on your skin

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Winter can be beautiful with a blanket of snow covering the ground. what can be less beautiful, though, is the effects of the bitter cold on our skin. 

Dr. Thomas Knackstedt, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, says that when it comes to beating dry winter skin, some products work better than others. He says most people start to notice it as early as November and it's a problem that can hang around until early spring. 

Using hand creams that contain ceramides can help as they can re-create the oil barrier that we normally have on the skin's surface. 

"I generally recommend that my patients, for the purpose of dry skin, stick to creams. They tend to have a lot more oils in them than the comparable lotion, often times by the same brand. The creams are usually what you find in tubs rather than in any sort of pump bottles," says Dr. Knackstedt. 

For those with very dry skin, Dr. Knackstedt says few things beat regular petroleum jelly - especially if you know that you're going to be outside in the very cold weather. 

He says it can be tricky during the winter because it's also cold and flu season. We want to keep our hands clean at all times, but the constant washing can really dry them out. 

Dr. Knackstedt recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which can clean hands, but help retain some moisture. 

Also, being mindful of the water temperature by dialing it down a notch during the winter months can go a long way.

"Warm water in it of itself gets rid of a lot of the oils that we have on our skin. If you just picture, doing the dishes in the evening, hot water will get rid of a lot of the cooking oils, and it's the same thing with our hands," says Dr. Knackstedt.

He says the severity of dry winter skin can depend on how cold it gets where you live, but one thing is for sure - we all have break-down of the skin barrier as we age. He says the elderly are more prone to dry skin issues and should take extra precaution during these months.