What do paper cuts, hangnails and Santa cheeks have in common? These seemingly innocuous minor ailments are actually early symptoms of dry skin—and if you don’t heed their warnings, that dry skin is only going to get worse.
One of the best ways to prevent dry skin before it happens is to hydrate from the inside out. Summer isn’t the only time your body and skin can get dehydrated, so make sure your family is drinking plenty of water, warm tea, and hot chocolate. Winter citrus fruits are another great way to up your hydration.
But dry skin does happen, despite our best hydration efforts! Here are our tips to identify its first signs, and how to combat and soothe it.
Dryness Sign 1: Paper Cuts
If you find yourself reaching for Band-Aids more often than usual, the problem might not be the sharp nails or corners that are nicking your kids’ skin—or yours—but the skin itself.
Cold winter air dries out your skin, and dry skin is more prone to paper cuts and little nicks. Hands are most frequently exposed to cold weather, so they are winter’s dry skin bellwether.
- Make sure to reach for the mittens or gloves (even on mild-ish days).
- Start a moisturization habit early in the season—not only on the hands but on the whole body. The Mayo Clinic says (and we agree!) that the most effective way to moisturize is to combine two kinds of cream: First, apply lotion to hydrate the skin’s outer layer, and then follow with a heavier, oil-containing cream to seal in moisture. Using coconut oil for dry skin is naturally effective, and our Moisture Duo is perfect for layering! Our Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream goes first, followed by the Coconut Oil Balm.
Dryness Sign 2: Red Cheeks
What’s cuter than a kid with red Santa cheeks? That blush, while adorable, is actually chapped cheeks.
With the winter comes dry air—not only outside in the cold, but inside the house. Your heater can draw humidity levels down, irritating sensitive skin.
- A humidifier can help restore moisture to the air in your house. (It’s best to keep yours between 30 and 50 percent humidity, according to the Cleveland Clinic.)
- To soothe those chapped cheeks and other extra-dry skin patches, slather on coconut oil-based Coconut Oil Balm. The balm is also protective, so apply some on hands and cheeks before going outdoors to protect skin from cold air irritation.
Dryness Sign 3: Hangnails
Our founder, Sweta Doshi, knows to double down on moisturizing when her son starts picking at hangnails. It’s true: Dry, brittle skin leads to hangnails! So pay attention when you spot hangnails on your kids or yourself. They are trying to tell you something: Not that you need a manicure, but you need more moisture.
Aside from winter air, there’s all that handwashing! Increased handwashing can lead to dry, cracked skin—but that’s no reason to stop washing.
- Use lukewarm water, as hot water strips skin’s moisture.
- Avoid alcohol-based soaps and soaps labeled “antibacterial,” as they “aren't that useful for preventing infectious disease,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “And they contain chemicals such as fragrance that can irritate skin.”
- Blot hands dry instead of rubbing them with a paper towel, according to EveryNurse.
- Keep a thick moisturizer next to the sink, ideally one that combats dry skin with coconut oil, such as Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream, and apply after every wash.
- Before bedtime, apply some of that Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream all over the hands, and then layer Coconut Oil Balm onto the dry cuticles to restore them.
Dryness Sign 4: Itchiness
“I think I have a mosquito bite!” Nope, not in the winter, kiddo. That’s dry skin!
Cause: What feels better than a long, hot bath or shower after a long day playing in the snow? But hot water makes dry skin even drier and increases itchiness.
- Read our blog post How to Bathe Kids and Babies with Dry Skin for all of our bath tips, but one of the most important ones is bathe kids less frequently! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends bathing babies and toddlers just two to three times a week. (As kids get older, bathe every day if needed, but don’t be afraid to skip the bath if they’re not dirty.)
- Keep baths under 15 minutes, and make sure the water isn’t too warm.
- Avoid harsh soaps, and instead use a hydrating, coconut-oil based soap meant for dry skin, such as our Creamy Coconut Oil Shampoo + Wash.
- Moisturize within three minutes of getting out of the bath. Ideally, layer on our Moisture Duo, chock full of coconut oil for dry skin.