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Limiting winter showers to 15 minutes saves healthy skin

HOUSTON – There's nothing like a hot shower on these cold winter days, but if you're using the steam to warm up, chances are you're leaving your skin out to dry and doctors say that can affect your health.

Redness, itching and cracking are all signs of dry skin and Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor, said the simple solution could boil down to water temperature. She suggests lukewarm showers in the winter, no longer than 10-15 minutes.

"When it's cold outside, people love their long, hot showers and that is so damaging to the skin," Katta said.

She said if you're looking to reverse the dry skin curse, don't actually dry it off after showers.

"You need to be thinking about moisturizer right away so the way I tell my patients to do this is pat just a little bit, just enough to get some of the water off and you want to put moisturizer on directly on top of damp skin," Katta said.

Here's what she recommends based on skin type:

Cerave lotion for normal skin

Aveeno Eczema Therapy for dry skin

Thereplex ointment, or petroleum jelly for severely dry skin

"Creams are thicker and may not rub in easily at first but if you apply them onto damp skin, they do rub in and then they lock the moisture into your skin," Katta said. 

These extra steps help prevent problems, like eczema, that can cause the skin to crack making it more prone to infection.