Volume 6, Number 2, 1997

Itch Relief

It's Wednesday, Jan. 22-the middle of winter. If you live in Billings, Mont., or Bismarck, N.D., chances are good you're suffering from dry, itching, red winter skin.

If you live in Alburquerque, N.M., or Harrisburg, Pa., you should be moderately concerned that an outbreak of itchy winter skin is on its way.

You should be mildly worried about an outbreak if you live in Amarillo, Texas, or Buffalo, N.Y., but you don't have to worry about dry skin at all on this winter day if you live in Atlanta, Memphis, Philadelphia or 58 other assorted cities in the U.S.

And, what Sultan of Skincare can give out this information with such assurance? Laurence Kalkstein, professor of geography and director of UD's Center for Climatic Research, who teamed up with other researchers and Combe International, makers of Lanacane, to create the first scientifically calculated index of conditions that create the
perfect atmosphere for pruritis hiemalis-dry, itchy, winter skin. The Lanacane Dry Itchy Skin Index calculates the relative humidity inside the typical heated home, using meteorological information from the outside.

Now, the public can find out what the dry, itchy skin index is in their city and take proper precautions to avoid the pain and itch of severe dry skin when the index is high.

The scale gives a rating of 0 to 3 to each of 400-plus cities that assesses the potential of dry, itchy skin conditions.

A rating of zero means no problem, a rating of one means conditions are mild, a rating of two means conditions are moderate and a rating of three mean conditions are high-that relative humidity has been below 20 percent for three consecutive days and that severe dry skin problems are likely to occur.

The index, which can be accessed daily on UD's Center for Climatic Research web site (http//www.udel.edu/SynClim/scl.html), includes a color-coded map of the United States representing dry, itchy skin conditions.

And, what if summer skin problems like poison ivy and mosquito bites bother you more? Keep watching. Lanacane has asked Kalkstein to develop a weather index for summer skin problems, too.