How to deal with itchy, dry skin and stay comfy this winter

November 29, 2017 | by Nina Lundberg, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Even if you have no idea what date it is today, you can probably tell it’s winter by the condition of your skin.

At least here, in the Midwest, where winters can be bitter cold, it’s easy to tell. As summer humidity leaves the air, skin can get dry and itchy.

Normal skin needs special care during the winter months, while those with conditions such as rosacea and eczema need even more vigilance to stay comfortable.

Cold, dry seasons can trigger or worsen eczema and rosacea. Both diseases cause skin to become very itchy and red. People with these conditions should consult a dermatologist to create a winter treatment plan that’s best for them.

The American Academy of Dermatologists offers some great, general care tips for dry winter skin, including:

  • Keep baths and showers short. Use warm, not hot, water and a mild cleanser. Gently pat the skin dry.
  • Apply moisturizer after getting out of the bath or shower. Ointments and creams tend to be more effective than lotions.
  • Read ingredients on skin care products. Deodorant soaps, alcohol-based toners, and products that contain fragrance can irritate dry, sensitive skin.
  • Use a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to the air.
  • Wear soft fabrics that breathe, such as 100 percent cotton. If you want to wear wool and other rough fabrics, wear a soft fabric underneath.
  • Don’t skimp on hand washing, which can remove harmful bacteria and viruses. If you need to wash your hands frequently, hand sanitizers are a good alternative (followed by a moisturizer as sanitizers are drying to the hands).
  • Apply hand cream after each hand washing. If more relief is needed, dab petroleum jelly on your hands before bed. If your hands are frequently immersed in water, wear waterproof gloves to help protect them.

Stay comfortable and warm this winter!

We help adults and children with conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Learn more about dermatology at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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