Dry skin (asteatosis) is a common condition that often worsens during winter months. Symptoms typically include skin that feels and looks rough, itching (pruritus), slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling, redness (dermatitis), a feeling of skin tightness and even bleeding.
Reasons for dry skin in winter include:
- The elements. In general, temperatures and humidity levels drop in the air drying out your skin.
- Heat. Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
- Hot baths and showers. Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin.
- Harsh soaps and detergents. Many popular soaps and detergents strip moisture from your skin.
When I see patients with dry skin that isn’t a symptom of a skin condition or isn’t severe enough to warrant a prescription, I will recommend simple changes that they can do at home to treat as well as prevent another flare up. The first change is to immediately begin to use unscented skin care products. Scented skin care products can cause irritation to dry skin exacerbating the problem. Next, it is very important to apply skin care products immediately after washing your hands, face or showering in order for your skin to absorb as much moisture as possible. It’s very important to wear gloves outside during cold weather. It’s simple and very important in order to not dry out your skin further. Lastly, put moisture into the air. This can be accomplished simply by using a humidifier.
When to see a doctor:
After trying the treatments above and should you still feel no relief you should see a doctor. You may be prescribed a topical ointment or cream. Dry skin can be a symptom of a skin condition so it’s important to get it evaluated by a Dermatologist if it persists.
For more information on dry skin visit aad.org