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6 ways to help a grieving friend or family member

(BPT) – When someone you know loses a friend or family member, it’s not easy deciding when and how best to respond. You may find yourself unsure of what to say or do. Sometimes a simple phrase such as, “I’m sorry for your loss,” can be extraordinarily meaningful.

Here are six helpful tips from 1-800-Flowers.com’s Celebrating A Life online resource on how to console a loved one during their time of grief:

Listen

Allowing a grieving person to express how they feel can be a huge help. Try to listen without offering advice or interrupting. Letting people share memories and talk about their loved one can be a part of the healing process.

Be specific when offering help

Make a specific commitment to being with the person who needs you. Offering assistance with day-to-day matters can be very comforting, but be sure to offer something specific, such as, “I’m coming over with groceries on Saturday.” That way, you’re offering help without placing the burden on the grieving person to figure out what to bring and when.

Navigate social media appropriately

When acknowledging the news of a loss, stick with the communication medium through which you initially received the information. If the news came by phone call, return the call. If you learned about the death through social media, it is appropriate to reply on social media, just be sure to keep your message brief on public pages. More detailed expressions of sympathy should be conveyed in private posts.

Be patient

It is normal for people who are grieving to experience a range of emotions. It takes time to heal, so be patient and allow them to grieve at their own pace.

Send a card

Show your concern and support by sending a card. Take the time to put your own personal message inside.

Don’t minimize their pain

It is important to keep the focus on the grieving person. Resist the urge to share stories of times that you’ve lost a loved one. Let your friend or family member share their own stories and memories.

1-800-Flowers.com has been helping customers express sympathies for more than 40 years. Now, the company has created an online sympathy hub for tips and advice, directly from experts, on how best to express sympathy and condolences. Topics include Appropriate Sympathy Etiquette Across Different Religions, How to Write a Eulogy, How to Create a Memory Garden, and Sympathy Etiquette and Social Media.

The site serves as a resource for people in their time of need and is intended to make their experience a little easier to manage. People need to have a greater understanding of how to help their friends, family and co-workers in coping with a loss.

For more information, visit www.1800flowers.com/sympathyadvice, or call 1-800-Flowers.com’s Sympathy Customer Service line at 866-538-2259.

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Baby on the way? Here are some tips

(BPT) – It’s only a matter of time now. Your little bundle of joy is on its way, and for the first time you are about to be a parent. Think you’re ready? Many people do and then the reality of parenthood strikes them. Remember your friends who said being a parent is nothing like they expected? They were right.

Parenting is a wild ride, but it’s also one of the — if not the — most rewarding things you’ll ever do in your life. Just don’t expect it to be smooth sailing right from the get-go. It’s going to be challenging, but there are things you can do to prepare before your life changes forever.

To give you the leg up you so desperately need, Dawn Dais, author of the parenting book “The S— No One Tells You,” offers this advice:

* Take advantage of your freedom. If this is your first baby, you need to maximize every second of freedom you have left. Go to the movies, order an appetizer and a dessert at dinner, travel, decide to leave the house and then do so 25 seconds later. Watch television shows with cuss words.

* Sleep now. Earlier this year, Dais and Store Brand infant formula released a “Baby’s First Year” survey that found 25 percent of new moms confessed their biggest fear before their baby’s arrival was never sleeping again. You will sleep again, but it might not be for a few months, so it’s important to get it in while you still can!

* Do your research. Make sure to discuss important topics before the baby arrives, such as feeding. The survey found infant formula is the last topic researched by new moms while pregnant, but the No. 1 topic researched after their baby arrives. A lot of new parents don’t think about this because they just assume they will breastfeed. They are told that it is the most natural thing on the planet and so it’s not even a consideration or option not to breastfeed. But what people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding can be hard and there may be challenges. The survey also found that more than 50 percent of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby, with low breast milk supply being the top concern. So, knowing your feeding options before baby arrives is vital.

* Babies are expensive, so know where you can save big. It’s important to note that all infant formulas are required to meet the same FDA standards. That means you can choose store-brand infant formulas that meet the same federal nutrient requirements for baby as nationally advertised brands, and in fact, cost up to 50 percent less!

Having a child is the most monumental change you can make to your life, but the joys that come with parenting make the process entirely worth it. Apply the tips above and you’ll eliminate some of those potential headaches. To learn more, visit storebrandformula.com.

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Dermatologist debunks top 5 skincare misconceptions

(BPT) – Figuring out what’s best for your skin can feel like solving a difficult mystery — everyone’s condition is unique, there are countless treatment options and people will do almost anything for a clear complexion.

“When it comes to your skin, there are many elements to consider,” says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, CEO and founder of Curology. “Clogged pores, acne and other common issues can be a result of age, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. I often hear about common misconceptions that cause otherwise well-meaning people to make mistakes that trigger larger skincare problems.”

To help people better understand skincare and take control of their daily regimen, Dr. Lortscher shares the top misconceptions about skincare and acne.

Misconception: Exercise and sweat can cause acne.

Fact: Sweating while exercising doesn’t cause acne. The eccrine glands produce sweat and the sebaceous glands produce oil — so revving up the sweat glands doesn’t actually turn on the oil glands involved in acne breakouts. The truth is sweating and humidity can aggravate breakouts by giving the bacteria on the skin a better environment to grow.

Cleansing is key post-workout, but keep in mind vigorously cleansing your skin can also be a source of friction that aggravates acne. The best strategy is to splash comfortable-temperature water on your face and neck, then pat dry gently.

Misconception: Chocolate and greasy foods cause acne.

Fact: Many people have heard that chocolate and junk food are the worst foods for your skin, but modern science hasn’t found a direct link between acne and oily foods.

Diets are like acne treatments: highly individual. That’s not to say your eating habits can’t affect your skin. Eating simple carbs and sugar raises your blood sugar levels, causing your body to produce excess insulin, in turn stimulating oil production and leading to more inflammation and increased acne severity.

Misconception: DIY skincare and home remedies are good for your skin.

Fact: The DIY craze has extended to skincare routines, giving people ample ways to create their own remedies at home. However, it’s wise to be careful about the ingredients applied to your skin.

Some people try baking soda as a cost-effective scrub or mask. Baking soda is pH 9 and the pH of the skin is 4.5-5 or so. Therefore, scrubbing your face with a baking soda paste can be harsh and disturb your skin’s natural barrier, leading to red, raw and sensitive skin and leaving it susceptible to breakout.

Others suggest lemon juice as a home remedy for acne but it can cause significant dryness, redness and irritation. Lemon juice may have an exfoliating effect on the most superficial dead skin cells, but there are better ways to treat your acne.

If you’re fed up with DIY remedies and over-the-counter products just haven’t worked for you, you have options. Try custom prescription skincare like Curology, a service that gets you expert dermatology care from the comfort of your home. Just take a few photos and a skin quiz to get a prescription formula customized to your individual needs.

Misconception: You can make your pores smaller.

Fact: Most people want smaller pores, but in reality, you can’t change the size or force them “open” or “closed.”

Pore size is genetic; you can’t shrink them or make pores go away. To keep large pores from worsening, treat acne breakouts, don’t pick and use sun protection. Sun exposure breaks down collagen, which is the support structure surrounding the pores, so pores do appear larger as you age.

Misconception: You only need to wear sunscreen on sunny days.

Fact: It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or cloudy; if you plan to spend time outdoors, wear sunscreen daily. It is estimated that damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun is responsible for up to 80 percent of skin aging.

SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

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Stuck inside? Easy tips to freshen up your living space

(BPT) – Winter weather means more time living indoors — working, playing, relaxing and staying warm. It’s important to keep your home fresh by staying ahead of the continual buildup of dirt, dust and allergens. The following are some key areas to tackle for a comfortable and efficient home.

Wash windows

Washing away dirt and water marks from your windows and screens gives you a clear view of the outdoors and lets in more natural light. It will also make your home feel lighter and brighter, keeping cabin fever at bay. And to help maintain a controlled climate inside the home, prevent air from leaking in or escaping by using weatherstripping or caulk around your windows. You’ll stay cozy inside and save money on your energy bill.

Check and replace your vacuum bag, filter and belt

A full vacuum bag, clogged filter or broken belt can hinder your vacuum’s effectiveness, leaving dirt, dust and allergens behind. Replacing your vacuum bags every 1-2 months, filters every 3-6 months and belts once per year is recommended to help your vacuum achieve peak performance. Even more, a Filtrete HEPA vacuum filter will help trap particles 75 times smaller than a human hair, including 99.97 percent of dust mite debris, animal dander, molds and pollen.

Don’t forget to look up

After tackling floors, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures. These hard-to-reach and hard-to-see places can harbor dust. And while you’re up there, change the direction of your ceiling fans to counterclockwise for the winter. This will keep air moving, but circulate warm air instead of cooling the room down.

Clean around your HVAC

With the heater on, be sure to clear the area around your HVAC unit to make sure there is nothing blocking the flow of air. Next, remember to swap out that filter for maximum effectiveness and change your filter every 90 days.

Turn on the humidifier

Increasing the humidity in your home during the cooler months adds moisture to your air and living space. This raises the “heat index,” making 68 degrees feel more like 76 degrees. If your house has low humidity, you may notice chapped lips, dry skin or a dry, sore throat. Be sure to maintain a relative humidity in the home between 20 and 40 percent. As the temperature outside drops, lower this percentage so condensation does not form on the windows.

Add extra insulation to all areas of your home

Adding insulation to your home reduces energy usage and increases comfort. If your home uses less than 12 inches of insulation, chances are heat is escaping. Add insulation in the attic to prevent warm air from escaping. Also consider adding insulation in crawl spaces, under floors and against basement walls to stop the transfer of cold through the house.

Take back your clean, fresh home today

Tackling each of these simple projects will help you take on winter with a fresh, cozy home you and your family can enjoy. For more information, visit www.filtretevac.com.

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5 house cleaning tips for allergy sufferers

(BPT) – Many people turn to nasal sprays and antihistamines to combat seasonal nasal allergies or hay fever, but keeping the home clean is just as important in the fight against allergies.

Keep the outdoors out

While it is hard to control exposure to pollen and other triggers when outside, those with allergies can avoid bringing pollen into the house with them. Keep shoes and jackets limited to the entryway or mudroom, and shower and wash hair before bedtime to stop the spread of pollen.

Vacuum often

One key to minimizing allergens at home is to vacuum at least twice per week. Start by using attachments to clean surfaces up high, working down to the floor. Make sure to vacuum curtains and upholstery as well as hard surfaces, and pay extra attention to entryways and areas around windows.

It’s also important to select vacuum accessories that have been designed specifically to capture allergens. Arm & Hammer Premium Allergen vacuum bags are designed of synthetic material to capture even more allergens, dust and pet hair from the home’s surfaces. In addition, the brand’s HEPA filters trap particles 75 times smaller than a human hair, including 99.97 percent of dust mite debris, animal dander, molds and pollen. Replace bags every couple of months and filters at least every six months.

Wash bedding with hot water

Bedding also should be a focus when attempting to allergen-proof the home. Sheets, blankets and comforters attract dust mites in even the cleanest environments. Wash bedding once a week in hot water to keep allergens at bay. It’s also smart to consider protective covers for mattresses and pillows to stop dust mites from getting in too deep.

Keep air dry

Too much moisture in the air can help dust mites thrive, and may also lead to mold. Using a dehumidifier, especially in humid climates or summer months, can help control the spread of mold and dust mites.

Minimize indoor plants

While plants can build ambiance in the home, some indoor plants can amplify allergy symptoms by releasing spores and other allergens into the air. For those with a green thumb who can’t live without plants at home, make sure to research the plants that are least likely to increase pollen or mold exposure indoors.

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New year, new you. Be your best, most productive self in 2018

(BPT) – It’s a new year, the time people traditionally take a look at what’s working in their lives and what could be kicked up a notch. If you could use more productivity and efficiency in your life, you’re not alone. Sometimes, it’s all anyone can do to make it through the day unscathed, let alone slay every item on their to-do list.

The good news? There’s help out there. Here are some tips, tactics and technology to help you wrangle productivity and efficiency back into your life at work and at home this year.

Eat that frog

If procrastination bedevils you, take a page from Mark Twain. He famously said if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you can go about the rest of your day knowing the worst is behind you. Author Brian Tracy brings that philosophy into the workplace, coaching people to “eat that frog,” or, get your most unpleasant or challenging task — the thing you’re most likely to put off — done first. It’s a powerful way to cut down on procrastination, accomplish more and slay your to-do list every day.

Get smart at home

Artificial intelligence is going to be big in 2018, with everything from chatbots helping you with your banking questions to devices designed to make your home smarter and life easier. LG Electronics has just released its AI device, the LG ThinQ Speaker, which comes with Google Assistant built in and features improved vocal clarity thanks to technology from Meridian Audio, the maker of high-performance audio solutions. With a voice-activated interface it serves as a smart home hub for your entertainment needs and for LG’s smart home appliances. Another LG device that plays well with the Google Assistant is the TONE Platinum SE, a Bluetooth headset that has a button for accessing the Google Assistant in a snap. It allows you to have a more natural conversation with it instead of always having to prompt everything with “Hey Google.”

YNAB

Struggling with your finances? Check out You Need A Budget. It’s an online program that helps users take control of their spending and save money with the goal of getting out of the living-paycheck-to-paycheck snare. On average, YNAB helps users save $600 by the second month and $6,000 the first year.

A dry cleaner in your closet

If you have ever scowled into your closet realizing you have nothing clean or wrinkle-free to wear to the office, the LG Styler from LG Electronics is for you. It looks like a closet of the future, but it’s a steam cleaner and wrinkle reducer that uses just water to get the job done. Hang your clothes inside, close the door and boom, they come out clean, fresh and lovely.

Keep your resolutions

Setting goals for 2018? There’s an app for that. It’s called Strides, and it tracks any goal or habit you’d like to incorporate into your life. Weight loss, exercise, getting up early, you name it, Strides can track your progress and let you know how you’re doing.

Wrestle laundry into submission

If your family’s mountain of laundry eats up your weekends, check out the LG TWINWash. It takes the pain out of laundry day. It features the LG SideKick, a pedestal washer (an industry-first innovation) that can tackle smaller loads, delicates and intimates. You can run both the SideKick and the main washer at the same time, and it’s also Wi-Fi enabled so you can check the status of your laundry from anywhere using your smartphone.

Using tips, tactics and technology, you can be your best, most productive, efficient self in 2018, giving you more time to enjoy everything the new year has to offer.

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5 ways to achieve your New Year’s resolution

(BPT) – Whether you want to lose weight, get in shape, read more or start playing guitar, there are thousands of New Year’s resolutions to pick from. For most people, though, their resolutions have to do with losing weight, exercising more or getting healthier. In fact, 69 percent of resolutions are about losing weight or staying healthy.

After all those cookies and belt-loosening meals of the holidays, it’s no wonder people want to get healthier.

Unfortunately, deciding on a resolution is the easy part; maintaining it is the challenge. But it’s not impossible. With the right resources and habits, there’s no reason you can’t realize your goal.

These five tips will help you do just that.

1. Set up a lot of smaller, incremental goals. In making our New Year’s resolutions, we can sometimes get a little ambitious. While it’s great to dream big, on a practical level, you need to figure out how to reach your target. Rather than have an enormous goal looming in front of you, think in terms of days or weeks. For instance, if you want to lose 25 pounds this year (which would be a significant and awesome accomplishment!) focus on losing two pounds a month. Breaking your goal into smaller increments can help you succeed in achieving that ambitious resolution.

2. Take advantage of perks. Did you know that your health insurance may have extra perks that give you an incentive to get healthier? Through the Blue365 health and wellness discount program, members of participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have access to discounts on gym memberships, athletic gear, nutrition products, and vision and hearing products. To see if your BCBS company participates in this program, visit www.Blue365deals.com.

3. Make it a team effort. Instead of making your resolution an individual goal, team up with a friend or family member, and together, work toward a shared goal. Having someone to hold you accountable, who you are responsible to and who can motivate you, is huge. It creates a great dynamic and source of inspiration that can get you through those mental slouches. If you can’t find a resolution partner, be sure to tell people about what you’re doing and talk about your progress.

4. Enlist the aid of technology. You may have noticed there are a lot of people wearing thin bands around their wrists these days. These fitness trackers track your movements, monitor your heart rate, provide a record of your movements and more. They help you to hone in on your fitness goals and remind you when you need to move. If you’re ready for a fitness tracker, or need to upgrade your old one, the Blue365 health and wellness discount program offers discounts on these essential workout tools.

5. Be meticulous. Don’t be casual about your goals! Treat them like you would a project for work. Set up a schedule that you can follow and create specific, measurable goals. This might sound a bit rigid, but it will give you concrete steps to follow, and once you start seeing your progress, you’ll feel a new boost of energy.

You should be excited about your New Year’s resolution, and you should be excited about challenging yourself to see it through and to realize your goals. For tools and motivation to keep your efforts on track, visit www.Blue365deals.com and get ready to welcome 2018 with gusto!

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

Blue365 offers access to savings on health and wellness products and services and other items that may be purchased from Blue365 Vendors, which are different from covered benefits under your policy(ies) with your local Blue Company, its contracts with Medicare, or any other federally-funded healthcare program. To find out what is covered under your policy(ies), contact your Blue Company. The products and services described on Blue365’s website are neither offered nor guaranteed under your Blue Company’s contract with the Medicare program. In addition, these products and services are not subject to the Medicare appeals process. Any disputes regarding your insurance products and services may be subject to your Blue Company’s grievance process. BCBSA may receive payments from Blue365 Vendors. Neither BCBSA nor any Blue Company recommends, endorses, warrants, or guarantees any specific Blue365 Vendor’s product or service available through the Site.

*Note to Editors: Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies participating in Blue365 are in the following states: AZ, AR, DC, DE, FL, IL,IA, KS, LA, MA,MD, MI, MO, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY,OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® also participates in Blue365.

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Want a beautiful smile? Protect yourself!

(BPT) – They say you can tell a lot about a person from their smile. From braces to whitening treatments, regular dental visits and good brushing habits, Americans do a lot to make sure their teeth look great when they flash a smile.

However, one of the most important parts of a great smile, and indeed an essential part of healthy teeth, often gets overlooked: your enamel.

The enamel is the hard, protective coating that covers your teeth and is the first and most important line of defense against tooth decay. Even though maintaining a strong, healthy layer of enamel is essential to preserving your smile, it often isn’t the focus of someone’s oral care routine.

“I like to share valuable information like enamel erosion with my patients and friends because most people don’t understand it or know how to prevent it and, most importantly, that once enamel is gone, you can never get it back,” says Ann Ross, RDH. “Because of this, prevention, through avoiding certain foods and practicing good oral hygiene, is essential.”

Proactive approach

To preserve your enamel and prevent further erosion, dental professionals recommend a proactive and defensive approach.

The first step is to take proactive measures. This includes proper brushing and using the right toothpaste.

In October of this year, the American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs announced that Crest Pro-Health Advanced, Deep Clean Mint toothpaste earned the first ADA Seal of Acceptance in the enamel erosion category, based on the finding that the product is safe and has shown efficacy in helping to prevent or reduce enamel erosion from dietary acids, when used as directed.

A good defense

You may be causing enamel erosion without knowing it. On a daily basis, people ingest acidic drinks and foods that are especially harmful to teeth. The biggest culprits are:

  • Lemon (including lemonade)
  • Cola drinks
  • Sport drinks
  • Orange juice
  • Energy drinks

If you drink these daily, make sure you are taking steps to protect your enamel, like using the right toothpaste, and drinking plenty of water.

Ross adds, “If you want to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile, make sure you protect your enamel by brushing twice a day with toothpaste that has been scientifically shown to prevent the erosion of enamel, like Crest Pro-Health Advanced, Deep Clean Mint.”

For more information, visit www.crest.com.

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Research-backed tips to help you get fit

(BPT) – A new year and a new you — that’s the theme of this season, right? So how are you going to improve yourself in 2018? If you’re like many people, weight loss is at the top of your list, and maybe you’ve already picked out your diet and your exercise plan.

Now you need a strategy to help you stick to your resolutions. And that can be easier said than done.

Sticking with any wellness plan can be tough, particularly if you aren’t seeing immediate results. But you have to trust the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the new you. Creating your best self takes perseverance and guidance, but it can be difficult to sort through all the information available. To get started, here are some research-backed tips that can help you meet your goals so that you’ll be on the right path to your best self yet.

Cut the sugar

Beyond weight loss, changes to our diet can have profound impacts on our overall health. For example, avoiding fructose, found in most processed foods, will leave you fundamentally healthier in just nine days, according to research found in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).

Low-carb beats low-fat diets

Chances are you’ve debated these diets yourself, so consider this fact: A scientific review published in the JAOA finds that low-carb dieters shed anywhere from 2.5 to 9 pounds more than those on low-fat diets. Give it a try and see how you do.

Work out with friends

Need that little extra push to tackle your daily workout? Make it a team effort. People who work out with friends reported a 26.2 percent reduction in their stress levels and they also experienced a boost to their mental, physical and emotional quality of life, according to recent research. So grab a friend — it’s good for your workout and for you.

If you get hurt, don’t walk it off

Accidents happen and when they do, you should err on the side of caution and seek a professional opinion. Avoiding proper diagnosis and treatment may cause you to end up suffering from larger problems later. This may include arthritis, chronic pain and even disability, according to a clinical review. If you get hurt, the best way to get back on your feet quickly is to first get off them and seek help right away.

Soak up the sun … safely

Exercising outside is great. Just don’t forget to slather on a good layer of sunscreen to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging rays. However, keep in mind that sunscreen decreases vitamin D3 production by 99 percent, according to a study published in the JAOA. This can lead to problems like muscle weakness and bone fractures. To counteract that deficiency, let your skin be exposed to the midday sun for a short time — no more than 30 minutes, depending on your skin’s pigmentation — before applying your sunscreen for the rest of your workout.

Find the right doctor for you

No matter your fitness goals, finding a doctor you trust will help. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) consider the health of the whole person and focus on wellness and injury/illness prevention as part of their standard care. A DO believes the mind, body and emotional state all contribute to the health of the patient, and they can be an effective partner in realizing the new you.

To learn more, visit doctorsthatdo.org.

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The truth about what makes your skin dry and itchy in the winter

(BPT) – We wait all year for activities that come along with winter, like sipping hot cocoa by the fire or staying in to snuggle up under cozy blankets while re-watching our favorite movies.

The winter season also brings some less-than-desirable side effects, though. An all-too-common winter woe is dry, flaky skin that can feel itchy, tight or painful.

In fact, a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CeraVe among more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that 55 percent of Americans feel having dry skin in the winter and having chapped lips are among the things they dislike most. Moreover, 57 percent of Americans said having healthy skin is more important than staying up-to-date on social media, 23 percent would move to another climate if it promised healthier skin and 18 percent would give up their favorite food for the duration of winter if it meant not having dry skin for the season.

The good news is that none of those trade-offs are necessary, because treating and preventing this wintertime discomfort can be helped with a simple change, says Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon based in New York City.

“In the winter, the conditions are much harsher on the skin, which means your skin has different needs,” Henry says. “So when the seasons change, that just means it’s time to switch up your skincare routine, just like you change the way you dress and how you spend time outdoors.”

Henry shares some of the common causes of dry winter skin, along with her expert tips for cold-weather skincare so you can start feeling better all over.

1. Dry air is everywhere

You may think that the outside air is to blame for your dry skin. While this may hold some truth, heated indoor air also has very little humidity. When you spend your life basking in this dry environment, your skin eventually pays the price.

“During the winter months, the skin contains more moisture than the air,” Henry says. “What happens is the dry environment leeches the moisture from the skin, leaving it looking and feeling dry and dull.”

Moisture loss, dryness and cracking comes as a result of damage to the skin barrier. To replenish your taxed skin, slather on a rich emollient that contains ceramides daily. Ceramides are like the mortar that holds the bricks of your skin together and are essential to healthy skin. For on-the-go relief, tote along small containers of moisturizer wherever you go.

2. Too much (or not enough) exfoliation

Make no mistake, exfoliation is important to year-round skincare, but adding it in the winter is essential. This process clears away dead skin cells and product residue, letting your winter moisturizers penetrate the skin and work more effectively, Henry says. Steer clear of products with beads and grains that strip and irritate the skin, especially in the winter. Instead, choose formulas designed to be gentle on sensitive complexions.

3. Too many long, hot showers

On a cold winter morning, a long shower that really steams up the mirror is relaxing and feels great. However, Dr. Henry says these long sessions are drying for the skin (and don’t get you any cleaner).

“I recommend that my patients keep showers under 10 minutes in lukewarm water,” Henry says.

Afterwards, she says, pat yourself with a towel so some moisture is left behind on the skin, and then seal it in by applying lotion all over.

4. Excessive hand washing

Hands can take a beating during the winter months. With germs running rampant all season, hand -washing is important to stay healthy, but those who wash their hands frequently tend to suffer more from dry skin, she says. Give hands some extra TLC this time of year. After washing, always apply a thick lotion to protect against and heal dry, cracked hands. Henry recommends CeraVe Healing Ointment, a gentle formula that contains three essential ceramides to provide intense, long-lasting moisturization, while soothing dry, chapped skin.

5. Your products are too harsh

Your winter skin care regimen should be different from your summer routine. Many summertime products are designed to remove dirt, oil and sweat, but when it gets colder and dryer, these products may become drying and irritating. Henry recommends switching your facial cleanser or body wash from a foam or gel to a cream-based moisturizing formula.

For more ideas on how to get soothing relief and protection for your sensitive winter skin, visit cerave.com.

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