As winter’s chilly embrace envelops us, so too can a flurry of skin issues.
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that dry skin is a common condition that affects people of all ages. The season’s cold air and indoor heating are just a couple of the culprits that can strip 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,” says Katie Boerst, a Nurse Practitioner with ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy.
Several causes that can lead to dry skin. These include:
- Low humidity: Cold air holds less moisture, resulting in reduced humidity levels. Dry indoor heating exacerbates this by further robbing the air of moisture, leaving your skin parched.
- Hot showers: While hot showers may be tempting in cold weather, they can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation.
- Harsh soaps: Using harsh, drying soaps can exacerbate the problem.
- 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.
Heading Off Dry Skin
Prevention is often the best strategy for combatting dry skin.
“To maintain healthy skin, it’s essential to be take proactive steps,” Boerst says. “Start by adapting your skincare routine to the season.”
Consider these steps:
- 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, which is 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.
When to Seek Care
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 such as eczema or psoriasis, Boerst says. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to a health care provider.
By following expert advice and maintaining a proactive approach, you can keep your skin healthy and comfortable throughout the cold season.
“Healthy, moisturized skin is essential for your overall well-being, so make it a priority during the winter months,” Boerst says.