Preventing Dry Skin During Winter
November 10, 2022 by VitalSkin Dermatology
It’s hard to believe that winter is already 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
About the Author
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.