Don't Get Chapped

| April 07, 2005

Winter is here and you have prepared your truck for snow, ice and freezing temperatures. But what about you? Have you prepared your skin?

There are several skin conditions such as dry, chapped skin, eczema, and the “sweaty socks syndrome,” which can be aggravated by cold weather.

“These problems are common winter skin problems that truckers can be particularly susceptible to due to their long drives in heated trucks,” says Dr. Adrienne Rencic, a clinical dermatologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.

Rhynie Johnson, an owner-operator from Selma, Ala., says he uses Skin-So-Soft to moisturize his skin. “I put it in my bath water,” says Johnson who drives for Fisher Trucking Company. “I have to do this because I have really dry skin in the winter.”

Rencic says cold air, and the dry air produced by heaters, can contribute to dry, chapped skin. But it can be combatted with over-the-counter moisturizers. Rencic’s tip on moisturizers: “The greasier the moisturizer, the better.”

Her recommendations include Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly, Aquaphor healing ointment, Eucerin cream, Moisturel cream and Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream.

Cathy Johnson, Rhynie Johnson’s wife and driving partner, says she uses a special Vaseline product. “It feels like lotion and it’s not as greasy,” she says. “If you put it on at night you won’t even have to put any on in the morning.”

Another common skin problem is eczema. Cold, dry weather tends to make this condition worse and the wool clothing you rely on for warmth can also worsen the problem “This looks like red, scaling, itchy patches on the skin,” Rencic says. “When it’s very bad the skin can crack, bleed and ooze,” she warns. The problem commonly occurs on the hands and feet.

To prevent the serious complications of eczema, truckers can try using moisturizers and wearing cotton gloves. The gloves will protect the hands from further damage and will help moisturizers and any skin medications penetrate the skin better.

“Unloading or loading of the truck can lead to dryness and chapping of the skin and cause splits or fissures, particularly on the hands,” Rencic says.

The sweaty socks syndrome can result in red, itchy and scaly feet. The problem occurs when your feet get wet and are kept in moist boots during the cold weather. Rencic says truckers are particularly at risk for this problem. “Often they wear heavy boots that can contribute to excessive sweating of the feet. Once they leave the truck and walk in snow, their wet feet can get cold.

“The best way to avoid this is to avoid wearing boots or heavy shoes whenever possible,” Rencic says. “Also, wearing cotton socks to absorb excess moisture can be helpful.” She recommends using Zeasorb or Zeasorb AF powders, which are over-the-counter powders that you can sprinkle on your feet before you put your socks on. They will absorb excess moisture.

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