Dry skin becomes more common with aging, and problems with dry skin can be even more pronounced during the winter.

“The air is dry inside because of heating, and outside because of a lack of humidity, and that takes moisture out of your skin,” explains Dr. Kenneth Arndt, a Harvard Medical School professor.

Dry skin can lead to itching, flaking, and even infection in severe cases. But you don’t have to suffer. Moisturizing is a simple way to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

“Think of it as putting a barrier between your skin and the cold, dry air,” says Arndt. He advises moisturizing your skin after exposure to water. “If you soak in a tub or wash your hands, your skin gets very flexible and spongy. But afterward the water evaporates and you’re worse off. So instead you should seal it in.”

Arndt recommends a heavier ointment with an oil base. Look for occlusive ingredients that block the evaporation of water, such as petrolatum, cetyl alcohol, lanolin, lecithin, mineral oil, paraffin, and stearic acid. And don’t be confused by promises that lotions are allergy-tested – there’s no government standard for that kind of claim – or full of vitamins. The amounts used are too small to have much effect.

Springing forward has its downside

Early Sunday, we’ll move our clocks forward one hour, and many of us will pay for it by losing an hour’s sleep. Is that a big deal?

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 adults by the Better Sleep Council, more than half will feel the impact of that loss after they “spring ahead”:

• Lack of sleep lingers. Adults typically feel the effects of Daylight Saving Time for days; 40 percent say it takes them more than a week or more to get back to normal after resetting their clocks.

• Workers are less productive without sleep – 74 percent of workers over 30 who report inadequate sleep say fatigue affects their work.

• Morale and attitude changes – 39 percent of U.S. adults claim Daylight Saving Time affects their mood.

The Sleep Council recommends short naps for the coming days – no more than 20 minutes each – as well as committing to seven to eight hours of sleep a night, keeping regular sleep hours, avoiding food and caffeine before bedtime, and getting exercise during the day.

Women: Get up and move

Whether you walk, dance, or Zumba, doing it every day might reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, according to a study published online in the journal Cancer.

According to the study’s authors, about two hours of exercise a day had the greatest benefit. Women who worked out that much had a breast cancer risk about 30 percent lower than inactive women. The intensity of the workout, or age, didn’t seem to matter in this study. Physical activity reduced breast cancer risk in women both during their reproductive years and after menopause. What did make a difference in the study was the women’s weight – especially after menopause. Gaining a significant amount of weight essentially wiped out the benefits of exercise on breast cancer risk in older women.

Compiled from News wire services