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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Tips for soothing dry winter skin

By itself, dry skin isn’t a medical worry, but serious cases can result in cracks and fissures that invite infection and inflammation. This is one problem that hasn’t suffered from lack of attention in the marketplace, though: there are dozens of creams and lotions for dry skin. But what ingredients should you look for in a moisturizer? Well-controlled studies are few and far between. The fact is that despite the long lists of obscure ingredients and the pseudoscientific hokum, all moisturizers help with dry skin for a pretty simple reason: they supply a little bit of water to the skin and contain a greasy substance that holds it in, reports the February 2008 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

One reason for the proliferation of moisturizers is the continuing search for a mix of ingredients that holds in water like petrolatum—a greasy substance known to many people as Vaseline—but feels nicer on the skin. The good news is that despite all the unknowns, you really can’t go wrong. Almost all the moisturizers on the market will help with dry skin, and in most cases, the choice comes down to simply whether you like the feel and smell.

The Harvard Health Letter suggests some additional tips for people with dry skin:

  • Turn down the thermostat: Hot air is drier than cool air.
  • Use a humidifier: It can help put moisture back in the air.
  • Take warm, not hot, baths or showers: Hot water whisks away the fatty substances in the skin that help it retain water.
  • Stay protected: Windy outdoor air is very drying, so bundle up.

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • Moisturizers: Do they work?
  • Too much of a good thing
  • Nutrition: Conversation with an expert
  • HDL: Good and brainy
  • Heads in the game
  • By the way, doctor: Should I continue to take Fosamax?
  • By the way, doctor: Will Boniva make my bones weaker?
  • Occlusive ingredients in moisturizers
  • References for “Too much of a good thing”
  • References for “Nutrition: Conversation with an expert”
  • References for “Moisturizers: Do they work?”
  • References for “Heads in the game”
  • References for “HDL: Good and brainy”

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.