'Tis the season, not just for New Year cheer, but also when I start noticing my skin reacting to the cold. Dry, rough hands, cracked skin around my nails, eczema on my elbows - who wants to do massage with hands like this?
The following are my tried and tested techniques for surviving a prairie winter.
- Swap out your lotion/oil/cream. Using the same massage gel, oil, lotion or creme day in and day out can contribute to developing sensitivities to different components, natural or chemical. Give your skin a break by keeping two or three safe choices available, and swapping them out during the day.
- Avoid possible and known triggers. Do you know what you react to? I watch for ingredients like menthol, or clove oil. These are common ingredients in sport massage blends that can cause my skin to react during this time of year. If you can't work without using your Japanese mint oil, put on gloves before applying it.
- Unscented everything. Wash your laundry, hands, everything, in the purest, kindest soaps you have. Use unscented dryer sheets, or put vinegar in your rinse cycle to cut the static cling.
- Use hand towels to dry your hands instead of paper towels. Imagine rubbing a tree all over your dry, scaly arms. Cushy, cottony towels are so much kinder to your skin, it's worth the extra laundry.
- Find the best moisturizers you can for personal use. Opinions vary as to what is best for sensitive skin, but if you don't know what you react to, try a pure oil. Apricot kernel oil contains vitamins A and E, and is rich in GLAs. Coconut oil is an old favourite enjoying a revival of sorts, for everything from cooking to hair treatments. Adding a few drops of lavender, neroli, or chamomile to your pure oil can help to calm inflammation and assist in healing. Our ST essential oil blend containing lavender, chamomile, patchouli, and bergamot would also lend itself to healing, as well as calming the stress response.
The above are just a few of the many possible solutions - there are any number of over the counter creams and salves, and barrier creams have also be used to prevent the development of contact dermatitis. What works for you?