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Winter skin conditions: Identifying symptoms and offering relief

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Dry skin is a prevalent issue during winter due to decreased moisture in the air. Symptoms include roughness, flakiness, itching, and a feeling of tightness. As a pharmacist, you can recommend the following tips to relieve dry skin:

  • Advise patients to use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturisers.
  • Encourage them to moisturise immediately after bathing to lock in moisture.
  • Suggest the use of a humidifier to increase indoor humidity levels.
  • Recommend avoiding long, hot showers that can further strip the skin's natural oils.

ECZEMA:

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, tends to worsen in winter due to dryness and irritation. Patients with eczema may experience red, itchy, and inflamed patches on their skin. Provide the following guidance to offer relief:

  • Recommend the use of moisturisers specifically designed for eczema-prone skin.
  • Advise patients to avoid harsh soaps and detergents that can aggravate their condition.
  • Suggest wearing breathable fabrics and avoiding tight clothing that can cause friction and irritation.
  • Educate patients about the importance of stress management, as stress can exacerbate eczema symptoms.

CHAPPED LIPS:

Dry, chapped lips are a common complaint during winter. Symptoms include dryness, cracking, and sometimes bleeding. Help patients find relief with these suggestions:

  • Encourage the use of lip balms with hydrating ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter, or petrolatum.
  • Advise against licking or biting the lips, as this can further worsen the condition.
  • Suggest protecting the lips from cold and wind by using a scarf or a lip balm with added sun protection.

WINTER ITCH:

Winter itch, or winter xerosis, is characterised by persistent itching that intensifies in cold weather. Patients may experience itchiness all over their body, particularly on the legs, arms, and trunk. Offer the following recommendations:

  • Advise patients to moisturise daily with emollients or creams containing ingredients like ceramides or urea.
  • Encourage them to wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural fabrics.
  • Suggest taking shorter, lukewarm showers, and avoiding hot baths, as hot water can further dry out the skin.
  • Recommend using mild, fragrance-free soaps, and detergents to minimise irritation.

As a pharmacist, you have the expertise to help patients identify and alleviate the symptoms of common winter skin conditions. By providing essential education and recommending appropriate products and practices, you can empower patients to take control of their skin health during the winter months. Remember to emphasise the importance of consistent skincare routines and moisture retention to maintain healthy and comfortable skin throughout the season.

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