Peter Reisner, M.D.
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Winters don’t have to bring dry skin
Winter is here, and everyone has begun to prepare for the cold, snow and ice. One thing that isn't always associated with winter weather is dry skin.
With a drop off in the level of moisture in the air, as well as humidity, winter months are prime time for skin to become drier and lead to further skin issues. Washing hands and wearing masks are key steps to preventing COVID-19, but they can dry out your skin.
To combat dry skin and save yourself from itchy or painful skin that is prone to infection, try these preventive self-care tips:
- Cover up.
This tip speaks for itself. In winter, it's important to bundle up when going outdoors ― not just for warmth, but also to protect your skin. Hats, mittens, scarves and insulated coats are your best friends, even if you don't have far to go.
- Moisturize every day.
It's vital to keep your skin healthy and moisturized during the winter. Make it a part of your daily routine. Use a hypoallergenic lotion as opposed to lotions that are heavy with scents. Also, use a brand that doesn't irritate your skin.
- When outdoors, wear sunscreen.
This may seem like an odd tip, but you still can get a sunburn when outside during the winter. If you're going to be outside for a prolonged period, such as snowshoeing, skiing or snowboarding, lather on the sunscreen before heading outside.
- Use a humidifier.
During the winter, run a humidifier in your home. Using a humidifier will add moisture to the air that decreases in the cold weather. This moisture will help combat dry skin problems.
Some other skin problems that may arise during the winter include dandruff and dermatitis. For those with dandruff, over-the-counter shampoos can be beneficial. Make sure to choose a dandruff shampoo with selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione. You may need to switch between these two if either one stops working. You can manage dermatitis by taking shorter baths and showers using warm, rather than hot, water. Use a gentle, nonsoap cleanser and dry yourself gently with a soft towel. While your skin is still damp, seal in moisture with an oil, cream or lotion.
See your health care provider if you have chronic or severe dry skin problems that don't improve with over-the-counter treatments.
Peter Reisner, M.D., is a Family Medicine physician in Chetek, Wisconsin.