How to prevent: Cold temperatures, wind, and excessive combing can create a buildup of negative ions on the hair shafts, which causes individual strands to repel one another, explains Roberta J. Hawk, a dermatologist in Billings, Montana. In a word: static. “Use a mild shampoo for dry hair, and always use conditioner, which gets rid of negative ions,” she says. Try Redken Smooth Down Shampoo ($10.50) and Conditioner ($12.50, redken.com for salon locations).
How to treat: River Lloyd, a hairstylist at the Peter Coppola Salon in New York City, suggests spraying Static Guard onto a hairbrush and brushing it through hair. “It always works,” he says.
When to see a professional: Flyaway hair accompanied by an itchy, flaky scalp indicates dandruff. If the condition doesn’t improve after you use an antidandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders Classic Clean for two weeks, see a dermatologist.
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How to prevent: “Elbows have a thicker top layer of skin, which is easily disrupted by the loss of moisture,” Hawk says. To keep them smooth, exfoliate with a scrub twice a week and apply a thick cream every day. Try The Healing Garden Exfoliating Body Scrub ($9 at drugstores).
How to treat: Twice a day, slather elbows with a hydrating cream, such as Lac-Hydrin Five Moisturizing Lotion ($16, amazon.com). To soften extra-rough elbows, apply a layer of Vaseline before bed to seal in moisture, says Lenora Felderman, a New York City dermatologist. Then, if you’re really motivated, cover them with terry-cloth wristbands to keep your sheets clean and let the moisturizer work during the night.
When to see a professional: If your elbows are still scaly after a week, you might need a stronger, prescription cream, says Jeanie Leddon, a dermatologist in Lafayette, Colorado. Redness and inflammation could also indicate psoriasis, a genetic disease.
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How to prevent: To keep skin from flaking, avoid products that contain alcohol, which is drying. Instead, use a gentle cleanser and switch to a richer moisturizer, such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Moisturizing Cream ($10.50 at drugstores). “I especially use it after skiing,” Felderman says.
How to treat: Continue to wash with a mild cleanser, such as Cetaphil. Moisturize several times a day. At night apply a heavy-duty lotion, such as Lac-Hydrin Five Moisturizing Lotion.
When to see a professional: If skin sheds excessively, a light chemical peel can remove the dead top layer of skin in one office visit. If flaky areas are itchy and irritated, you may have an allergy. A dermatologist can prescribe the appropriate cream.
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How to prevent: Blood vessels dilate when the temperature drops―the reason many people get flushed noses after romping outside. Since sun exposure can also cause redness, wear plenty of SPF 30 sunblock, even in the dead of winter. Try Kiehl’s Sun Protection Lotion SPF 30 ($19.50, kiehls.com). Wear a ski mask when outdoors for prolonged periods. “It’s best to create a physical barrier,” Felderman says.
How to treat: Flushed features should fade soon after you come indoors. To speed up the process, apply a warm―not hot―compress to the skin for a few minutes.
When to see a professional: If redness persists―especially if it’s accompanied by whiteheads or visible blood vessels―seek medical treatment for rosacea, a form of acne. A dermatologist can prescribe antibiotics or perform a laser treatment to reduce the appearance of blood vessels or redness.
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How to prevent: The thin skin covering the hands is particularly susceptible to dehydration during the winter. Protect it by wearing gloves outdoors and using rubber gloves when doing dishes. And each time you wash your hands, moisturize afterward. “Keep a jar of cream by every sink in the house,” says Leddon. Try TheraSeal Hand Protection ($24, dermstore.com).
How to treat: For an extra moisture boost, apply a thick layer of hand cream before bed, and sleep wearing white cotton gloves (available at drugstores). The gloves allow better absorption of the cream.
When to see a professional: Cracked, raw hands that sting or burn when you apply creams (or, worse, when you get them wet) should be treated by a doctor. “Severely dry hands may have eczema, psoriasis, or an allergy,” Hawk says. “Oral antibiotics, internal cortisone, ultraviolet light treatments, or strong external ointments may be necessary.”
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How to prevent: There’s no such thing as too much lip balm. It’s your first line of defense against chapped lips, says Jayne Fortson, a dermatologist in Anchorage, Alaska. Try ChapStick or Carmex, which contain a moisturizing ingredient such as lanolin or petrolatum. Wear a lip balm with SPF if you plan on spending more than 30 minutes outside. Try Dermatone Meicated Lip Balm SPF 23 ($3, dermatone.com). Unlike many balms, it won’t crystallize in cold weather. Says Leddon, “Also, avoid licking your lips. That dries them out even more.”
How to treat: Coat lips a couple of times a day with a heavy-duty emollient, such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment, which seals moisture into skin. “That should rehydrate lips within a day or two,” Felderman says.
When to see a professional: Painful cracks at the corners of the mouth are signs of perleche, a type of yeast infection, or a cold sore, which may require a prescription ointment.
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How to prevent: Prolonged exposure to harsh winds can leave skin raw and chapped. Before heading out, layer on a rich salve, such as L'Occitane Shea Organic Shea Butter ($12, loccitane.com), to create a thin barrier between your skin and the wind. Then coat skin with an SPF 30 sunblock. For added insurance, wear a hat or a scarf that covers your neck and nose.
How to treat: Smooth and hydrate wind-ravaged skin with a nourishing cleanser, such as Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser ($13, walgreens.com). Wash with warm―not hot―water and follow with a moisturizer. Sooth sore, irritated patches with a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream. Try Aveeno Maximum Strength 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream ($7, drugstore.com).
When to see a professional: If itching and soreness persist for more than three or four days, ask a dermatologist for a stronger prescription cream, which should accelerate the healing process.
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How to prevent: Gently scrub away dead skin cells with a pumice stone once a week, and moisturize feet daily with a thick cream containing hydrating acids, such as Lac-Hydrin Five Moisturizing Lotion.
How to treat: “Apply a thick coat of cream and wear cotton socks to bed,” suggests Deborah Sarnoff, a dermatologist in New York City. “Your feet will sweat a bit during the night, and the moisture will be deeply absorbed.” To increase absorption, place a tube of Aquaphor ($6, drugstore.com) in a small saucepan of warm water, slather the warm salve on top of the moisturizer, then put on socks. Reapply moisturizer in the morning.
When to see a professional: Painful cracks that don’t heal in a week or two probably need a prescription-strength cream. “Cracked, itchy feet could have a fungus or suffer from eczema or psoriasis,” says Hawk. Make an appointment with a dermatologist or a podiatrist.
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How to prevent: Blustery winds, the punishing glare, and dry air can leave eyes red and irritated. To protect them, wear sunglasses. Read labels and look for glasses that shield you from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
How to treat: Apply nonmedicated saline tears or nonmedicated eyedrops, such as GenTeal Mild Lubricant Eye Drops ($12.50 at drugstores). Reapply as often as necessary. Over-the-counter medicated eyedrops should be used sparingly, since prolonged use can cause a rebound of redness, says Susie Hahn, an ophthalmologist in Bayside, New York. If the skin around your eyes feels irritated, moisturize the area. “But avoid creams that contain alpha hydroxy acids, which can be irritating,” says Fortson. Try Burt’s Bees Radiance Eye Cream With Royal Jelly ($15, drugstore.com).
When to see a professional: If nonmedicated drops don’t help after a week, make an appointment with a dermatologist or an allergist.