Don’t Let Winter Take a Toll on Your Skin

Feb 3, 2022 / Dermatology

Has your skin been rough, itchy, flaky, and red recently? Chances are you are having dry skin issues. In the winter, our skin has to deal with lower humidity levels and colder temperatures, which can cause excessive dryness. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to combat dry skin in the wintertime (and other times of year). Here’s some tips that I recommend to my patients:

  • Avoid long, hot showers. Too much heat and hot water can dry out your skin. Try to limit your shower to between five and ten minutes. If possible, you could even try showering every other day to protect your skin during the wintertime.
  • All soaps are not the same. Sometimes the soaps we use are more a habit of what we grew up with rather than a conscious choice. Those older soaps can often be extremely drying and that “tight” feeling we often associate with clean is really just from natural oils being stripped away from our skin.  Try to choose a moisturizing fragrance-free soap often labelled “for sensitive skin” instead. You will get used to living without the dry “tight” feeling and your skin will thank you.
  • Apply a moisturizer quickly after showering. After you take a shower, pat your skin dry and then apply a moisturizer right away. Applying a moisturizer when your skin is damp helps to trap moisture inside the skin.
  • Try a moisturizing cream instead of a lotion. Many lotions contain a lot of alcohol and fragrance, which can irritate the skin. Creams that contain hyaluronic acid and ceramides are generally better moisturizers.
  • Use a humidifier, especially at night. This can help counteract a dry, low-humidity environment and help protect your skin. Setting the machine to between 30% to 50% humidity is ideal.
  • Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners. Some laundry products, including detergents and fabric softeners, can become embedded in the fabric of your cloths and then break down the oils that protect your skin, contributing to dry skin problems.
  • Protect your hands. The hands really take a beating in the wintertime weather with exposure to the cold weather plus all the hand sanitizing and extra washing we have to do these days. Be sure to wear gloves when outside to help protect your skin. Also, wear gloves when washing dishes to protect from the drying effects of many dish soaps. Always moisturize your hands whenever they feel dry.

Keep in mind that dry skin becomes much more common as we age. Our skin becomes a little less able to hold moisture in so it’s important to take steps to counteract this. If the above remedies don’t help your dry skin, consider seeing your primary care provider or a dermatologist. Sometimes dry skin can be an indication of underlying health conditions that need treating including dehydration, eczema, allergic reaction, diabetes, and kidney disease. Your skin is an important indicator of your overall health, so it’s important not to neglect any problems that affect it.

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