James M Shehan, MD FAAD
February 27, 2017
Key Points: The best ways to combat dry skin in the winter involve aggressive use of moisturizers on your hands, feet, face, and other parts of your body and minimizing factors that will further irritate the skin by removing natural oils from your skin.
- First, it is important to limit the length of showers and baths and avoid using extremely hot water. Long hot showers and baths can lead to dry, itchy skin or even rashes.
- Hot tub and/or swimming pool usage in the winter should be limited as well. ° If you use either the hot tub or the swimming pool, it is important to rinse the chlorinated water immediately using a gentle cleanser and apply moisturizers following your shower/bath.
- No matter what, the use of moisturizers is critically important. We have found that most patients need to use these skin care products twice a day throughout the winter month for the best results.
Winter Dry Skin
Dry, dead skin cells can be a troublesome problem, particularly in the Midwest, in the winter months. Dry air in the wintertime, both inside and outside, is a major contributor to this. Also, taking longer and warmer baths and showers in the colder months of the year can further dry out sensitive skin. Particularly as we get older our skin is more susceptible to dryness.
In most cases, those of us suffering from dry skin will have dry, flaking skin in certain areas of the body, most commonly on the back and legs. Most of the time, there are no symptoms. However, sometimes the patient may experience itching, which can be quite severe. We have seen numerous patients with this problem over the years, and it seems to be particularly common at the end of the winter or near the spring when we have suffered through all of the months of winter and our skin is maximally dry.
Treatment for Dry Skin
There is good news: in most cases, dry skin conditions can be easily treated. You may have heard that drinking more water is a solution. This, however, is somewhat of a misconception. The issue with dry skin is not dehydration throughout the body, but rather dehydration in your skin. As far as the moisturizers go, the heavier the moisturizer, the better it works.
Opt for products in your skin care routine that contain hyaluronic acid, as these products pull moisture from the surroundings to your skin. Ointments are best, but in most cases (similar to petroleum jelly) are far too greasy and messy to use on a regular basis. For this reason, fragrance-free creams tend to be the most ideal, as scented lotions are useful but less effective.
In our dermatology practice, the two moisturizers that we prefer are:
However, there are many other products on the market which can also be beneficial. Even with regular use of moisturizers, it can sometimes take a few weeks for the dryness to subside and the itching to go away.
Perhaps the most important thing to recognize is your skin is susceptible to dryness, and this may worsen in upcoming years. For this reason, regular maintenance use of moisturizers may be of great benefit to you. If you have persistent ongoing issues with dryness and itching, please consider scheduling a visit with our Omaha dermatologists as you may need further evaluation and prescription treatments.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands
Our vision is to deliver the highest level of dermatological care, using the most advanced technology and evidenced-based medicine in a personalized and compassionate environment. We are a patient-centered team committed to being the best place to work while also providing the highest quality of dermatology care. Our goal is to exceed our patients’ expectations while building a reputation as being the top dermatology practice in the Midlands. For any information or to make an appointment please contact us.