The Everyday Home: Are you 'shocking,' 'clinging' and 'itching'?

Sonya McDaniel, extension educator, FCS/CED
Pottawatomie County OSU Extension Center

Have you noticed an increase in your chap stick and lotions use? Are your hands so dry they feel like sandpaper? Do you take off your coat only to find your shirt is glued to your back with static! You are not alone.

With the increased use of heating units which tend to dry out the air and the decreased time outside, our bodies and clothing begin to respond. Couple that with increased hand washing due to cold and flu season, and it creates a perfect dry skin storm!

Here are a few things to consider:

Moisturize every day. Even if you normally don’t use moisturizers or lotions now is the time to take advantage of those products. This is especially true for children.

Wear cotton or soft fabrics. Avoid rough, scratchy fibers and tight clothing.

Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or non-soap cleanser

Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel – do not rub.

Apply a moisturizer within 3 minutes after bathing to “lock in” moisture.

When possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat.

Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather.

Keep your fingernails short to help keep scratching from breaking the skin.

Some people with high allergies issues find it helps to remove carpets from their house, and give pets dander treatments.

Another option for homeowners is to use humidifiers to add moisture to the home during the winter. In the past, when homes were leaky and less energy efficient, much of the moisture generated inside the home went out with the warm air escaping around and through windows and doors.

Overly dry air was common, and people experienced static electricity buildup on carpets and clothes, breathing difficulties due to dry nasal passages and somewhat destructive overdrying of furniture. To combat this dryness, they commonly used humidifiers. Some were incorporated directly into forced air heating systems, and moisture was circulated in the home along with heated air. A second type of humidifier, the free-standing model, is portable and can be moved freely around the home to provide moisture where it is most needed. Whether you have extensively weatherized your home or not, experiencing condensation problems means you should not use a humidifier.

If your home is extremely dry, then you may also want to consider looking into some basic weather proofing to prevent air escaping through windows and doors. This will also help your pocket book!

DIY Moisturizer: Combine ½ cup coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vitamin E or tea tree oil, and about 6 drops lavender or Eucalyptus oil in a bowl. Mix. Store in an airtight container.