Your skin loses moisture because its ability to function as a barrier is compromised. The top layer of your skin, called the epidermis, is structured like a brick wall, which should act like an impermeable barrier to moisture loss. The keratinocytes, or bricks, are stacked one on top of the other, and fats act as a sealant. But there are a number of reasons that the barrier comes down: Two of these fats, ceramides and cholesterol, decline with age. Additionally, many people are taking cholesterol-lowering agents, which can also lead to dryness. A portion of the population has a genetic propensity towards a deficiency in the brick wall structure, which results in eczema. Finally, micro-organisms and irritating chemicals can seep into the permeable structure which can lead to infection, redness, itching and flaking.
The good news is that dry skin can be managed in the cool, dry months with proper maintenance and quality skin-care products. If dry skin becomes a serious problem, consult your health care provider for more advice. In the meantime, don’t forget to stay hydrated and to limit exposure to the elements. With just a little bit of care, you should be feeling and looking your best this winter, whether you’re on the slopes, relaxing fireside or even braving it out on course during a cold-weather round.