Do the colder seasons make your skin too dry? Todd Francis, MD, ProMedica Physicians, says it’s the change in the air that’s to blame.
“As the cold air comes in, it tends to be drier and doesn’t hold as much moisture. It’s actually pulling moisture out of our skin,” he explains. Spending more time inside doesn’t help either, as forced air tends to be drier as well.
The cold air can be especially brutal on the hands and feet, which can become cracked and rough. “Hands and feet don’t have the same oil glands that the skin on other surfaces of our body do,” explains Dr. Francis. “It’s also the skin that takes the bigger beating from hand washing and use.”
Dr. Francis offers the following tips to help keep your skin moisturized and healthy:
- Stay hydrated. “It actually starts with hydrating the skin from inside,” explains Dr. Francis. “Keep your skin as hydrated as possible so it doesn’t dry out as fast.” It may takes days or even weeks to repair a fluid deficit, but boosting your fluid intake will help. If you’re not a fan of water, try infused water or unsweetened coffee.
- Use an oil-based moisturizer. “In general, these tend to be better at locking in the moisture,” says Dr. Francis. “This prevents the loss of moisture as opposed to actually putting moisture into the skin.” A hypo-allergenic moisturizer may be best for those with eczema or other skin conditions. The best time to moisturize is right after the shower when your skin is still damp. There are even some products available for use in the shower–just be careful if it makes your shower slippery!
- Avoid hot showers. It’s the time of year when you want to warm up in the shower, but curb your temptation to turn up the heat. Dr. Francis says that this actually accelerates the process of drying out your skin.
- Watch for damage or infection. Deep cracks in your skin, inflammation, and signs of infection mean that it’s time to call your doctor. They may recommend a petroleum-based steroid ointment to treat the skin.
Dry skin is common during the winter months, but if your home remedies aren’t working and your skin condition worsens, reach out to your primary care provider for help.