Keeping your skin healthy during winter isn’t easy: bitter cold and wind outside and hot air from the heater inside can make your skin dry, red, itchy, and irritated. The onset of cooler weather can also lead to seasonal flare-ups of chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
“It’s important to take extra care of your skin during the winter, especially if you are prone to feeling dry and itchy,” says Dr. Barbara Resnick, dermatologist at The Oregon Clinic Portland Dermatology. “As the temperature drops, the air holds in less moisture and draws that moisture out of your skin.”
We’re sharing a few tips to help your skin feel healthier and better protected throughout the season.
Common Winter Skin Conditions
Dry skin results from the loss of oils in the skin that serve as a natural moisturizer. Dry skin may occur with excessive bathing (especially with hot water), low humidity, or the use of drying soaps.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that causes red, scaly patches on the body. It is not contagious, but it can be itchy and uncomfortable. Although it is a skin disorder that is not seasonal, low humidity indoor environments and less exposure to natural sunlight can contribute to flares.
Eczema is an itchy rash with inflamed skin. Symptoms range from mild itching and redness to severe blistering and cracked skin. According to the National Eczema Society, 1 in 12 adults suffer from eczema.
Prevention & Treatment
Preventive measures and regular treatment can bring relief and reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of winter skin conditions.
- Find a moisturizer you like and make it part of your daily routine. For best results, gently exfoliate dry areas before or during a shower or bath, then apply a thick fragrance-free moisturizer when skin is still damp.
- Avoid irritants such as soaps, hot water, detergents, and fragranced pro ducts.
- Add moisture to indoor air by using a humidifier.
Identify common triggers such as stress, certain medications, alcohol, smoking, and extreme temperature changes. Also, avoid picking and scratching at your skin!
Your dermatologist may prescribe topical medications like cortisone creams and ointments to apply on the skin or oral medications like antihistamines to help with itch. In some severe cases, your dermatologist may recommend ultraviolet light