Dry itchy skin may be a sign that you need an improved moisturizing routine. Keep skin looking smooth, moisturized and itch-free during the winter months by practicing these simple steps from Jaime Davis, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and trusted Coolibar medical advisor.
1) Evaluate the soap you use. Use cleansers such as Dove, Cetaphil or Vanicream that won’t dry out the skin. Any soap can say moisturizing, so look for labels that say “for sensitive skin” or “non-drying”.
2) Humidify the home. Moisture evaporates out of the skin and dry air pulls out even more. A humidifier with help prevent moisture from leaving the skin.
3) Use a cream rather than a lotion. Cream is thicker than lotion. In fact, it’s so thick you can stand a spoon in it. Lotion is runny and fine to use in summer, but in the winter cream holds-in moisture better. Apply cream right out of shower all over when skin is still wet. Then gently pat dry with a towel.
4) Reapply moisturizer after washing hands. It’s the same concept as lathering-on cream after showering. Apply it while the hands are damp and pat dry to retain moisture.
In severe cases of painful dry skin, medical attention from a dermatologist may be required. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition where the skin goes from dry to inflamed, cracked, red and peeling. If you have eczema, you can try an over-the-counter 1% Hydrocortisone cream, an anti-inflammatory, in addition to your moisturizer. This is a good start for general eczema. You can find creams with aloe or without, but keep in mind simple is better. Try using the over-the-counter cream twice a day for a week. If it doesn’t work, seek a dermatologist. For severe cases, especially cracked and weepy skin, visit a dermatologist sooner rather than later to get treatment recommendations.
Another skin condition called Psoriasis produces dry, scaly, inflamed areas on the skin such as the elbows and knees. While this condition is not caused by winter dryness, it can become worse during dry months. Using a moisturizer and/or cortisone might be helpful, but if all else fails, a dermatologist can emit UV light medically in doses. UV is an anti-inflammatory, so it calms itchy red skin. The UV is dosed carefully so patients get the therapeutic benefits without side-effects. Using a tanning bed for treatment is not recommended as they contain a different wave length of light that’s not therapeutic and can cause skin damage.
These dry skin conditions happen everywhere, not just in cold regions. Use proper moisturizing agents and seek medical attention if conditions persist.
Resources: Dr. Jaime Davis, Uptown Dermatology & Skin Spa, KSTP Interview Dry Skin & UV
Photo credit: Phrawr
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.