In the winter time, the ambient air temperature cools down and the use of heaters become more common. The colder air has a relative lower humidity level and heaters can dry out the air even further. These factors lead our skin to lose more moisture and dry out. What can tip our skin over into severe dryness is our tendency to take longer hot showers and baths which can feel very enjoyable. However, prolonged exposure to hot water leads to further drying of our skin. Severely dry skin becomes quite itchy (winter’s itch) and in some cases, develop into a rash known as the asteototic or xerotic eczema.
We can prevent skin dryness during the winter time by taking a few routine measures that focus on gentle skin care and maintaining skin’s hydration:
- Use a gentle and non-drying, or non-soap cleanser in the shower. (e.g. Dove sensitive skin bar soap, Cetaphil cleanser, Aveeno cleanser)
- Keep your showers warm, but not hot
- Keep your showers/baths less than 5 minutes
- Immediately after drying off, moisturize the skin with a thick moisturizer. The rule of thumb is that the thicker is better though any emollient is better than not moisturizing at all.
- Consider using an ultrasonic humidifier in the bedroom.
- Consider using a radiator instead of a fan heater.
- Bundle up with clothing and keep the heater set to no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
In most cases, taking these simple measures will allow our skin to maintain it’s hydration during the dry winter months. However, if you continue to have dryness, itching, or even rashes despite taking these measures, we advise you schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified providers for further evaluation and treatment recommendations.