10 Tips to Ease Winter Skin Woes


Crackling fires, cozy scarves, the occasional exciting snow flurry and dry, itchy skin. Which of these winter descriptions doesn’t quite go with the rest?

There are a lot of great aspects of winter, but uncomfortable dry skin isn’t one of them. The cold, less-humid air outside combined with artificial heating indoors leaves your skin begging for intervention. Here are 10 things you can do to ease winter skin woes.

  1. Shower (and bathe) smart. A long, hot bath or shower may feel great in the moment, but hot water dries out your skin even more. See if you can stand lukewarm water and make sure you don’t soak or shower more than about 5 minutes.
  2. Choose soap wisely. Your skin should feel smooth and soft after bathing, so if it feels dry or tight, deodorant soaps could be the culprit. Try a gentle skin cleanser, shower gel or mild soap with added moisturizers or oils.
  3. Major moisture. Apply moisturizer right after getting out of the tub or shower while your skin is still damp. This will help lock moisture in. Plan to use your moisturizer at least two times a day (morning and night) or more, if necessary.
  4. Add moisture to the house. Turning on the heat is a must in the winter, but it dries out the house and therefore, your skin. Try a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air. You can also place plants with large leaves around the room to add moisture to the air (after you water, the water diffuses up the stem and out into the air). Another solution is to place bowls of water in the room that you spend most of your time in. The water will evaporate and add moisture to the air.
  5. Keep clothes skin-friendly. There’s nothing worse than an itchy sweater for your already irritated skin. Wool is often the worst, while silk and cotton let your skin breathe.
  6. Bundle up. Limit your skin’s exposure to the cold and wind with scarves, hats and gloves.
  7. Still need the sunscreen. Sunscreen isn’t just for summer. Winter sun can also damage your skin, so if you’ll be outside on a sunny day, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed face and hands about 30 minutes before going outside.
  8. Help your hands. Do your hands seem to dry out the fastest? That’s because the skin is thinner here than on most other parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. Wear gloves when you go outside and apply moisturizer often throughout the day.
  9. Pace your face. If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks and alcohol-based toners or astringents. These can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, look for mild foaming cleanser, toner with no alcohol and masks that are “deeply hydrating.” Consider using these a little less often.
  10. Don’t forget the feet. Look for lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerin, and use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically to help moisturizers sink into your skin faster and deeper.

While winter skin woes are not uncommon, it’s important to note that dry skin symptoms may resemble other skin conditions, or result from other disorders.

Call your doctor if:

  • There is itching without a visible rash.
  • The itching and dryness are so bad you can’t sleep.
  • You have scratched so hard that you have open cuts or sores.
  • Home remedies have not relieved the dryness and itching.

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