For many of us, winter is a time filled with outdoor fun and activity. For some, however, dry and itchy skin effects our daily lives, limiting activity and enjoyment of this special season. There are many factors that contribute to dry, itchy skin. Some are as simple as the soaps we use, the lotions or creams we don’t apply, and medical conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis and others.
As the weather changes and indoor heating units kick on, the humidity in the air dries out. We’re inside more in that dry air and we tend to feel a little dry. Ways to help simple dry and itchy skin is to use a lotion-type soap such as Dove bar or cream soap. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, opt for the sensitive, fragrance-free types such as Vanicream products. I would caution against using body washes that include combination shampoo and body wash, as they tend to take all the natural oils off the skin. Other very drying soaps are Dial, Zest and Irish Spring.
Limit showers to short, warm temperatures, as those wonderfully long hot showers/baths will dry you out even more. Right after you’ve dried off, apply a heavy moisturizing cream, such as Vaseline brand, CeraVe, Cetaphil or Vanicream. These tend to be well tolerated for sensitive skin and absorb into the skin without leaving a greasy feel. When the skin barrier is healthy and moisturized, it tends not to itch so much.
If the itch turns into a rash, you could be experiencing a condition like Eczema or Atopic dermatitis. There are great new medications for these conditions nowadays. Topical steroids are generally the first line treatment and are very effective for many people, and safe when used properly and as advised by your provider. If the topical steroids are no longer working for you, talk with your local Dermatology provider about the newer medications that stop the inflammation at the cellular level, and are quite safe and effective. These medications come as a topical ointment, oral pills and injections.
Hopefully this helps you enjoy the skin you’re in this Winter!