Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Doctors Are Out (of Their Minds)

In catching up on a few days' worth of newspapers at lunch today, I ran across an article that's very timely but contains some odd solutions to the stated problem.

The subject is keeping skin from drying out during the winter months, which resonates with me, because the skin on my hands gets so dry that it's been known to crack open on my knuckles, completely at random. And while Dallas dermatologist Dr. Mary Hurley has some good advice in this area, I'm not sure that I'd be willing to heed the suggestions the National Institutes of Health in a sidebar to the article:

•Keep baths or showers short.

•Use warm, not hot, water.

•Use as little soap as possible. Try mild cleansers such as Aveeno or Cetaphil or mild soaps such as Neutrogena or Dove.

•Dry skin thoroughly but gently. Pat, don't rub.

•Bathe or shower less often.

Say whaaaat? Bathe or shower less often? In a word, no. The public-school part of my job requires me to spend all day in small, stuffy spaces that sometimes have insufficient temperature control. I'm not going to shower less, and I sure hope the kids don't, either.

And the American Academy of Dermatology has some unusual ideas as well:
  • Switch to an oil-based moisturizer and use it frequently. The more oil a moisturizer contains, the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Ointment moisturizers have a high oil content because, by definition, an ointment consists of 80 percent oil and 20 percent water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective layer on the skin and is more “moisturizing” than creams and lotions.

  • Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Use on the face, hands and other exposed skin. This acts as a barrier against the elements and is especially important if you will be outdoors.
I'm not sure too many people buy sunscreen in the wintertime, unless they spend their entire day outdoors for their jobs. It may be medically sound, but I'm not sure it's practical.

And the other thing that bugs me about this is the insistence on slathering a bunch of oils on your skin. If I did that, I'd break out all over...and probably have to see a dermatologist. (Hmm--the cynic in me wonders if there's not an ulterior motive here.)

But far worse would be the person who went overboard on the sunscreen or oils and then decided to bathe less. I think such a person's coworkers might well protest, and rightfully so.

What do you do to keep your skin from drying out in the winter?

Hap birt t m: Today is my half-birthday--exactly six months to the day between my last birthday and my next one. Granted, nobody appends the "half" to their age once they're older than, say, ten, but it's still funny to tell people on that day. (I'd still like to give someone a "half-birthday card" sometime: They get the front half now and have to wait six months to read the punch line.)

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