Dermatologists discuss effect of winter on skin
SHAUMBURG, Ill. — Dry skin is a common problem during the winter and its effects can be painful – causing the skin to flake, itch, crack and even bleed. Yet dermatologists say there are ways people can find relief by implementing a few changes to their daily lives.
“It’s tempting, especially in cold weather, to take long, hot showers, but being in the water for a long time and using hot water can be extremely drying to the skin,” said board-certified dermatologist Stephen P. Stone, MD, FAAD, professor of dermatology and director of clinical research, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield. “Keep your baths and showers short and make sure you use warm, not hot water. Switching to a mild cleanser can also help reduce itching, and be sure to gently pat the skin dry after your bath or shower as rubbing the skin can be irritating.”
Dr. Stone shares more tips to relieve dry skin:
• Apply moisturizer after getting out of the bath or shower. Ointments and creams tend to be more effective than lotions.
• Read ingredients on skin care products. Deodorant soaps, alcohol-based toners, and products that contain fragrance can irritate dry, sensitive skin.
• Use a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to the air.
• Wear soft fabrics that breathe, such as 100 percent cotton. If you want to wear wool and other rough fabrics, wear a soft fabric underneath.
• Don’t skimp on hand washing, which can remove harmful bacteria and viruses. If you need to wash your hands frequently, hand sanitizers are a good alternative.
• Apply hand cream after each hand washing. If more relief is needed, dab petroleum jelly on your hands before bed. If your hands are frequently immersed in water, wear waterproof gloves to help protect them.
“It’s very important for people to see a board-certified dermatologist if these tips do not relieve their dry skin,” said Dr. Stone. “Very dry skin may require a prescription ointment or cream, and dry skin also can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as eczema.”