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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SWArticle: Tips for surviving winter in Minnesota

<ome to the land of 10,000 lakes, the town that bested Jesse James, and Carleton College centered around cows, colleges, and contentment. Oh, and by the way, welcome to harsh winters, temperatures far below zero, and dry, itchy, red, chapped skin.

Fortunately, Carleton SWAs are here to help you deal with any and ALL health-related issues, including that dry winter skin. This article presents some information about the effect of winter on your body, as well as some precautions and solutions.

Winter skin issues are caused by the unique combination of low-humidity environments we live in during the winter. The air outside is cold and dry, but we are offered no respite indoors where heaters sap all the moisture out of the air. Jumping in a hot bath or shower seems especially inviting during these cold months, but don’t get trapped in that habit – bathing too frequently removes the natural oils from your body, adding to your problems.

Of course, not everyone is blessed with healthy skin to begin with. Some of us have even spent years trying products until finally, we hit on just the right combination to control our skin problems. The following tips are merely suggestions, and shouldn’t be adopted by an individual who isn’t having any winter skin issues. Stick to a regimen that works for you, and alter it a little at a time if need be.

When you bathe, close the bathroom door to contain the humidity generated from your shower. Stay in the humid room until you have completely finished the remaining steps listed here. Take shorter showers or shower less often, and use warm (not hot) water. Use only mild soaps and limit it to the areas that need it (e.g. armpits). Try taking showers without washing your hair. Apply conditioners starting two inches away from your scalp and continuing all the way to the ends. Consider trying deep conditioners or hair masks if your hair is really dry. When you are finished showering, pat your skin dry (don’t rub); patting helps your skin to retain moisture and doesn’t irritate your skin. Apply moisturizer immediately, preferably within three minutes to lock moisture in your skin.

Moisturizer works to keep moisture in your skin; consider using a cream or ointment if your skin is really dry. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) works well on severely dry/red spots. Apply leave-in conditioners or hair cream (not gel) to style your hair. Avoid using a blow-dryer or other heating element; if you must use them, apply a thermal protector product and limit your hair’s time in the heat as much as possible.

Remember, your whole body is affected by the cold, dry outdoor air and heated indoor air. Make sure to maintain a moist environment in your eyes (artificial tears), nose (saline drops), lips (lip balm), etc. Creating a humid environment by using a humidifier can cut down on the amount of dry air your body is exposed to. Eating healthfully and drinking plenty of water will also help your body protect itself.

For more information about the effect of winter on your body, see the Fact of the Week (available in SWA stalls across campus), the large bulletin board on first floor Goodhue, or visit with your local SWA or TWC staff.

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