As winter’s chilly embrace envelops us, so does a flurry of skin issues. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes one of the most common conditions affecting people of all ages is dry skin. It is also known as xerosis, and the season’s cold air and indoor heating are just a couple of the culprits stripping the skin of its natural moisture.
“We often see a significant increase in patients complaining of dry skin during the winter, and it can lead to discomfort and various skin problems,” said Katie Boerst, a nurse practitioner with ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy.
Several factors contribute to dry skin during the winter, including:
- Low Humidity: Cold outdoor air combined with indoor heating systems can drastically reduce the humidity levels in your home. This dry environment can cause moisture to evaporate from your skin, leading to dryness.
- Hot Showers: While a hot shower may be tempting on a cold winter morning, it can actually strip your skin of its natural oils, exacerbating dryness.
- Harsh Soaps: Using harsh, perfumed soaps or overusing soap can damage the skin’s protective barrier, making it more prone to dryness.
- Lack of Moisturizing: Neglecting to moisturize regularly can leave your skin without the protective barrier it needs to retain moisture.
- Winter Wind: The cold, dry wind can further deplete the skin’s natural oils and lead to increased dryness and irritation.
Prevention is often the best strategy to combat dry skin.
“To maintain healthy skin, it’s essential to be proactive with it,” said Boerst. “Start by adapting your skincare routine to the season.”
Here are some additional tips:
- Use a Humidifier: It can help maintain an optimal level of humidity in the air, preventing your skin from drying out.
- Shower with lukewarm water: Instead of hot showers, opt for lukewarm water, which is less likely to strip your skin of essential oils.
- Choose the Right Cleanser: Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser to avoid damaging your skin’s protective barrier.
- Moisturize Daily: Apply a rich, hypoallergenic moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering to lock in moisture. Look for products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or glycerin, which can help repair the skin’s natural barrier, often compromised with dry skin.
- Hydrate: Staying hydrated from the inside out is crucial. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help maintain your skin’s moisture balance.
- Dress Appropriately: Wear clothing made from natural, breathable fabrics, like cotton and silk. These materials are less likely to irritate your skin.
- Protect Your Skin: When going outside, wear gloves, scarves, and hats to shield your skin from the cold wind and reduce moisture loss.
In most cases, dry skin can be effectively managed with home remedies; however, there might come a time when you need professional attention.
“If you experience severe itching, cracking, fissuring, or inflammation of the skin that doesn’t improve with at-home treatments, you might have an underlying skin condition, like eczema or psoriasis, and you may need prescription medications to find relief,” Boerst said. “Healthy, moisturized skin is essential for your overall well-being, so make it a priority during the winter months.”
By following expert advice and maintaining a proactive approach, you can keep your skin healthy and comfortable throughout the cold season.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.