< Back

Preventing Dry Skin During Winter

October 29, 2023 by VitalSkin Dermatology


It’s hard to believe that winter is almost here. As the year wraps up, soon we’ll be celebrating the holidays, and fall will give way to the colder winter months—which can be tough on our skin. When the temperatures plummet, the heat turns on, the humidity drops, and we take hotter showers, our skin is robbed of its moisture, often resulting in dry skin.

Understanding the Causes of Winter Dry Skin

Winter dry skin is a common woe for many of us, but what exactly causes it? Understanding the root causes can help us take proactive steps to combat this issue.

Low Humidity: One of the primary culprits behind winter dry skin is the drop in humidity levels. As the temperature falls, the air becomes drier, which, in turn, sucks the moisture out of your skin. Indoor heating systems exacerbate this problem, creating a double whammy for your skin.

Cold Temperatures: The cold, harsh winter winds can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it vulnerable to dryness. Cold air can also cause your blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to your skin and making it feel tighter and drier.

Hot Showers: While a long, hot shower may feel comforting during the winter, it can be detrimental to your skin. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it parched.

The Impact of Dry Skin on Your Health

Dry skin during winter isn’t just a cosmetic concern; it can have a significant impact on your overall health.

Discomfort and Irritation: Dry skin can be itchy, flaky, and uncomfortable. Constant scratching can lead to minor skin injuries and open the door to potential infections.

Increased Risk of Infections: When your skin is dry and cracked, it provides an entry point for bacteria and other pathogens, potentially leading to infections.

Skin Conditions: In some cases, untreated dry skin can progress to more serious conditions like eczema, which may require medical treatment.

Dry Skin or Eczema?

While dry skin isn’t dangerous, it can be very uncomfortable. For some patients, this dryness can result in eczema. Eczema (also called dermatitis) is the result of inflammation in the top layers of the skin. It can be red, scaly, and for many people, very itchy and uncomfortable. Eczema often appears on the bend of the elbows or the back of the knees. It can also be common on the face, eyelids, hands, and feet.

How to Prevent Dry Skin

When treating dry skin, prevention is key. There are a few simple steps we can take to keep our skin hydrated.

Humidifier: A humidifier can be used to add moisture to the air. These can be moved from room-to-room over the course of the day, which is helpful for those working at home.

Bathing Habits: Another step involves our bathing habits. Often, people like to take long hot showers or baths to relax and to warm up. Unfortunately, that dries out our skin. Shortening the length of the shower and cooling the water down (cool not cold!) can help prevent dry skin.

Hydrating Your Skin:

Lastly, we can hydrate our skin by using moisturizers daily. Moisturizers that come in tubs and tubes tend to be more hydrating than lotions. Because dry skin can be irritated easily by fragrances and dyes, it is best to use a fragrance-free and dye-free moisturizer. Brands such as Cetaphil, Cerave, Aveeno and Neutrogena all have gentle moisturizers designed to hydrate dry sensitive skin. The best time to use a moisturizer is after bathing when the skin is still moist. Ointments such as Vaseline and Aquaphor can be used for very dry skin and are easiest to use at night as they are greasier.

Common Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions surrounding winter dry skin that can mislead individuals. It’s essential to dispel these myths to better care for your skin during the colder months.

Myth: Oily Skin Can’t Get Dry

Reality: Oily skin can indeed become dry, especially in harsh winter conditions. Dryness is related to the skin’s moisture content, not its oiliness.

Myth: Drinking More Water Solves Dry Skin

Reality: While hydration is vital for overall health, drinking extra water alone may not significantly impact your skin’s moisture. Hydration involves both internal (drinking water) and external (moisturizing) measures.

When to See a Doctor

Sometimes, these steps aren’t enough. Then what? Your dermatologist is an expert in treating the inflammation and eczema that doesn’t respond to the above measures. They can prescribe a cortisone cream to settle down the inflammation and give you relief from the itching. They will also evaluate you to be sure there isn’t something else that could be contributing to your dry, itching skin.

VitalSkin Can Help

As we navigate the challenges of winter and strive to keep our skin healthy and radiant, remember that the expertise of your local VitalSkin dermatologist is just a call away. Our dedicated professionals are here to help you address any skin concerns, from dryness and discomfort to more complex conditions like eczema. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for personalized guidance and effective solutions. Your skin deserves the best care, and with VitalSkin dermatologists, you can confidently embrace the winter season with a healthy, glowing complexion.


About the Author

DrKeimig 18

Emily Keimig, MD, MS is a board-certified dermatologist at Dermatology + Aesthetics, an affiliate of VitalSkin Dermatology. She specializes in general dermatology, addressing various skin concerns on a daily basis. If you’re experiencing prolonged dry skin symptoms that won’t go away, we’re here to help! Give us a call to set up an appointment, and we can determine if (or what) treatment is needed. 

Online Scheduling

Schedule your appointment, today!

Make an Appointment
Make an Appointment