Avail Dermatology

Winter Weather and Your Skin

The combinations of cold, dry air outside and warm, dry air inside during winter is tough on skin. Everyone needs to adapt their skincare regimen for the season, particularly those with certain skin conditions.

Winter Skin Care for Everyone

The most prevalent dermatological problem for most during the winter season is dry, itchy skin. Those suffering from these general cold-weather issues should keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use warm water for bathing and washing; hot water depletes your skin’s natural protective oils.
  • Wash with a gentle, moisturizing cleanser — preferably one without fragrances, deodorants, or antibacterial agents.
  • Limit your bath or shower to 5 to 10 minutes. Any longer can strip the oils from your skin.
  • Apply moisturizer directly after you bathe. There is a brief window, roughly three minutes, after you towel off, during which the skin is extra-hydrated from soaking in warm water. If you can immediately apply a moisturizer, it will “trap” the moisture in the skin, greatly enhancing the effectiveness of the moisturizer. Wait too long, and the extra moisture in the skin evaporates and “chaps” the skin, leaving it even drier than before bathing. So don’t waste time!
  • With moisturizers, heavier is better for severely dry skin. Lotions in a bottle are mostly just water. A cream in a tube, or a heavy ointment in a jar, may be a bit less pleasant to use, but will be much more effective when your skin is very dry and irritated.
  • Hands are particularly prone to dryness, due to frequent hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers during the cold and flu season. Apply a heavy, protective hand cream frequently, and after every hand washing.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Wear gloves, scarves, and lip balm to cover exposed skin when outdoors.
  • Wash your face once a day.
  • Drink plenty of water; your skin will benefit from internal hydration too!

Winter Skin Care for Acne

Winter can present special challenges to acne patients. Many acne treatments, ranging from over the counter products, all the way up to potent oral medications like Accutane, can cause severe dryness, making it difficult to keep going. .Here are some strategies::

  • Switch out cleansers containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide for gentler cleansers over the winter.
  • Use a gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer to keep your skin moist and your pores clear.
  • Discuss scaling back on topical acne medications during the winter with our dermatologists if your skin is becoming dry and irritated. There are some topical medications that are less prone to causing dryness, and in some cases, adding or changing oral medications may reduce the need to use harsh topical medications.

Winter Skin Care for Eczema

Eczema sufferers must actively continue with their skin protection regimen in winter because dry air and allergens from indoor heating can exacerbate dry, itchy, rashy episodes. Consider:

  • Following the instructions above for aggressive moisturizing in the critical three minute window after getting out of the tub or shower.
  • Extra attention to using heavy, highly protective moisturizers to all eczema-prone areas..
  • Avoiding fragrances and other potential allergens or chemicals in any skin care products.
  • Getting dermatology evaluation. If your eczema is to the point of causing significant itching, then often prescription medications are needed to get eczema back in control.

Winter Skin Care for Psoriasis

In addition to the advice above:

  • Talk with our dermatologists about various treatment options, including both topical and injected medications.
  • Wear layers of soft clothing you can add or remove so that you never get too cold outdoors or too sweaty indoors — and choose soft cotton over denim or wool.
  • Keep stress levels low; stress can make psoriasis flare-ups worse.
  • And, just as with eczema, if your skin is flaring up badly due to cold weather, see a dermatologist to find treatments that will help get your skin back under control.

If you experience winter skin problems, call Avail Dermatology at 770-251-5111 to schedule an appointment and start feeling better!