Cold winter weather can mean dry and itchy skin. But there are some easy ways to avoid irritation. MU Health Care Dermatologist Kara Broadis, MD, Here are five tips to protect your skin from the cold and dry winter weather.
change your soap
Soaps such as Zest, Irish Spring and Dial are excellent detergents, but they strip your skin of natural oils. That squeaky clean feeling is really bad for your skin in winter because it means you have washed away the natural protection that keeps your skin from drying out. During the winter, consider washing with a mild soap like Dove, or Cetaphil, which are gentle on the skin and don’t strip away essential oils.
bathe like a baby
Taking a hot shower may feel great in cold weather, but hot water can irritate the skin and strip it of natural moisture. Turn on your shower to a temperature that is suitable for bathing your baby.
Dry gently, then rehydrate
When you step out of the shower, your skin is more receptive to added moisture. Your skin is moist and more porous, so pat yourself dry with a towel. Do not rub or scrub. Then immediately apply a gentle, fragrance-free, colorless moisturizer. Petroleum jelly and mineral oil are also great post-shower moisturizers. In general, creams that come in tubs are more moisturizing than lotions in bottles, so don’t go pumping the scoop!
winterize your laundry
If you suffer from dry skin in winter, change your laundry products. Look for detergents without dyes and fragrances that can cause itching. This can be true even if you’ve been using the same brand for years! Dryer sheets are also a notorious cause of winter itchiness. Either stay away from dryer sheets altogether or use a brand that is made of paper sheets instead of a composite fiber sheet.
stop hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, which can dry out your skin. If you don’t work in health care, basic hand washing is probably good enough for you. When your skin becomes swollen, red, patchy, scaly, itchy or crusty, visit a dermatologist, who can prescribe medicated topical creams to treat the condition and possibly prevent infection.