When winter comes, the skin on the body can become dry and rough. This is more so with the exposed areas, like the arms. If the skin is normally dry, the problem becomes worse in winter. The lack of humidity in the air robs the skin of moisture. The use of hot water can cause further dryness. The parts of the body which become really dry are the feet, the back of the hands, the knees and the elbows. These areas need special care during winter. Bath time is appropriate to pamper the body and supply it with the oils and the moisture it needs. In fact, applying body lotions and creams soon after bathing, while the skin is still damp, helps to seal in moisture.
A variety of creams, lotions and oils are available for the body. You can get yourself a hand and body lotion, or a rich cream, depending on the extent of dryness. You would need a loofah or rough towel to give your body a rub, after applying oil, cream or lotion. This helps to smoothen rough skin and also improves blood circulation to the skin surface, leaving the skin glowing. It is particularly helpful on rough areas like the knees and elbows. Soapless shower gels are better in winter. Or, you can use glycerine soap. For extreme dryness, avoid soap.
Before your bath, apply oil on the body and massage it into the skin. Sesame seed (til) oil or olive oil may be used, or you can use any vegetable oil. Warm the oil before use. A traditional home pre-bath treatment is to mix “besan” (gram flour) with a little milk or curd and a pinch of “haldi” (turmeric) into a paste. Rub the body with this before your bath and wash it off while bathing. This cleanses the body well.
While bathing, give your body a rub with a loofah or rough towel, specially on the knees and elbows. If these two areas are dark, rub two lemon halves on them before your bath. After bathing, wipe off and apply a body lotion, or thicker cream, paying special attention to the feet, back of the hands, knees and elbows. Rub the lotion or cream into the skin on these areas.
Among winter problems, cracked heels are quite common. Cracked heels can be prevented by giving the feet daily care, by way of massaging the skin with creams and protecting them from the cold, dry air. The problem can also be tackled with proper foot care. Before bathing, apply a lemon-turmeric cream on the feet and heels, massaging it into the skin. This not only softens the skin, but also protects it from the drying effects of soap and chlorinated water. Turmeric has antiseptic properties too and thus provides protection from infections.
At night, before retiring, soak the feet in hot water for about 20 minutes. Add some coarse salt and shampoo to the water, before soaking the feet. Hot water helps to soften the dead skin on the heels. With the help of a pumice stone or a heel scrubber, rub the heels gently, in order to remove the dead cells. Massage with a good cream, rubbing it into the skin. Wear cotton socks and go to sleep. Repeat this daily for one week.
Here are a few tips for winter body care:
For itchy skin, add half a cup of vinegar to a bucket of water. Use it at the end of your bath. You can add a tablespoon of honey to your bath water. This has a softening effect and relieves fatigue. A handful of powdered milk can help to nourish dry skin. You can also make your own massage oil by mixing almond oil with sunflower oil and adding a few drops of rose or sandalwood oil. This leaves the body with a pleasant fragrance and is much better than using perfumed oils which are available in the market.