Tips to Eliminate Winter Skin Woes

Northwestern Medicine
Dermatology February 01, 2013
Scratching the surface of your itchy skinFollowing a whirlwind couple of days, colder, less-humid temperatures are back in Chicago bringing with them the increase in tight, itchy, red and uncomfortable skin. While it can be challenging to keep your skin hydrated during the winter months, Northwestern Medicine dermatologists say simple modifications to your daily skin care routine can help.

“The substantial drop in moisture that occurs during the winter months can be damaging to your skin causing dryness, itching, irritation, cuts or sores,” said Jill Weinstein, MD, dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group. “It’s essential to change your skin care regimen each winter to rehydrate your skin and keep it moisturized.”
Weinstein offers the following tips to banish dry skin and give your skin care routine a boost:

• Skip the hot bath or shower because although soaking in a hot bath may feel great after being outside in the cold, the prolonged water exposure and heat breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin causing a loss in moisture.

• Moisturize frequently and don’t rely on your typical lotion to get you through the cold winter months. Be sure to moisturize every time you wash your hands and get out of the shower and again before bed.

 Shower then shave as shaving can irritate dry skin. Men, shave after you get out of the shower. Women, save shaving for last while in the shower.

• Hook up a humidifier to add moisture to the air inside your home to help humidify the dry air and relieve itchy skin.

• Protect your lips by using an ointment-based lip balm or lubricating cream made with SPF and petrolatum or beeswax.

• Grab a pair of gloves that are made of material that does not irritate your skin. During bitter cold days, layer a wool mitten over a cotton mitten to help keep your hands warm and dry.

• Apply sunscreen because the combination of winter sun and snow glare can damage your skin. Make sure you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and re-apply every two hours if you’re planning to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

• Wear breathable fabrics like cotton or silk to allow your skin to breathe. When you wash your clothes, use detergents without dyes or perfumes. Dressing in layers for warmth is important, but also prevents excessive sweating.

“Many cases of dry winter skin will clear up within a few weeks of adjusting your routine, but if your skin doesn’t improve, consider calling your doctor.” added Weinstein.
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