AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
The effects of winter can be harsh on your skin. Dry skin is frustrating, especially when it becomes chapped and cracked. Sunlight, cold and dry air, certain soaps, and chemicals all aggravate and worsen this condition because they weaken the outer layer of skin and make it less capable of retaining and replacing moisture. Your genes are also to blame, since certain skin types are more prone to dryness. You know the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? When it comes to preventing painful cracked skin, this sage advice holds true. It starts with moisturizing, says dermatologist Ellen Marmur. “The best prevention is to begin using a moisturizer before your hands show signs of dryness.” Two ingredients are key to an effective moisturizer: humectants, which draw moisture from the skin to maintain hydration, and emollients, which smooth the skin and retain moisture. Both come in synthetic and natural forms and are easily found at your local grocery store. Natural humectants and emollients hydrate the skin long-term, while
synthetic versions may soften the skin for a while, but don’t moisturize as well. For natural humectants, use ingredients such as aloe, honey, and glycerin. Natural emollients include shea butter and avocado oil. Lotions with added fragrance can further irritate already-dry skin, so it’s best to use fragrance-free. Once you’ve picked your favorite moisturizer, store it in an obvious place — your desk, nightstand, car — where it’ll serve as a reminder to reapply it throughout the day. Once is not enough, Dr. Marmur points out. A single use is enough protection for only about five minutes. With your moisturizing routine down, protect your skin from the elements by covering sensitive areas, like your hands and feet, with protective layers. Use warm water instead of hot water to wash, and try to limit showers to less than 10 minutes. Even though they feel good, long, hot showers dry out the skin more. If you live in a cold or dry climate, you might also consider using a humidifier for added moisture.
“I hurt my right shoulder building a large shed (too much hammering). It continued to get sorer to the point of not being able to sleep or raise my arm up. I took prednisone, which gave relief, but once I stopped, it came back. “I then received a cortisone shot, which didn’t help that much. Another doctor recommended physical therapy. After working with Claire for a few months, I am now pain-free.” –Stephen W. “My freshman year of high school, I started having recurring knee pain. Throughout my high school years, I tried a lot of different treatment methods, like topical ointments and ibuprofen. Now, after coming to Synergy as a high school senior, I can finally do the things my knee pain prevented me from doing before, like running and playing sports. I’m glad to say that I now have little to no knee pain anymore!” –Hope T.
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