To fix dry itchy winter skin, nix those daily showers

If you want to get through winter without dry, itchy skin, Dr. Melissa Babcock of Babcock Dermatology says stop trying to be so clean.

"In this country, we are a country of over-washers," Dr. Babcock said.  "So, people that get in and take two or three showers a day, and they're putting soap on their arms and legs over and over again. You actually don't need that much soap."

And, Babcock says, you may want to cut back on how often you shower and or bathe.

"A lot of people prefer to bathe once a day, but that's not totally necessary," she said "You could get away with a couple of times a week. And 100 years ago, people only bathe once a week and their skin was a lot better."

If you work out, or can't go to bed, or get up and start your day without a shower, Dr. Babcock says, she gets it.

File Image - Close up detail of the bare skin on a man back with scattered moles and freckles. via Getty Images

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"It feels good, and enjoy it, but it is hard on your skin, and especially with the really hot water," she said. "That's hard at your skin, too. So, you want to keep just normal water, not scalding and the best you can try to minimize the number of times you wash."

And, in the winter, Babcock says, you don't need to get yourself all squeaky clean.

"You really should keep the washing to those soiled areas: the face, the armpit, the groin," she said. "And, although it is popular to soap up the arms and legs with people with dry skin, I tell him, just skip that and use water. And I know sometimes that's uncomfortable for them, but it really saves their skin because they're taking away too much natural oil." 

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Whether you prefer to shower or bathe, when you're done, Dr. Babcock says, follow what they call "the 3-minute rule" in dermatology.

"When you get out, you pat off dry and try to put your moisturizer on within 3 minutes before the water evaporates from your skin, because the minute it evaporates, it'll dry you out further," she said.