Relief for Winter’s Dry Skin

Dry skin is a common skin concern, especially during the winter months, and is usually accompanied by scaling, flaking, cracking and itching. There are simple measures one can take to help treat and prevent dry skin.

Shower or bathe daily with lukewarm water using a soap-free or mild soap cleanser. In general, liquid soaps are gentler and more moisturizing than bar soaps.

Limit shower and bath times to 5-10 minutes. Blot skin dry with a towel.

Apply moisturizer within 3 minutes of showering or bathing to help “seal in the moisture.” Moisturizers can be applied as often as necessary throughout the day to help keep the skin soft and supple. Hand creams should be applied after every hand washing. In general, creams and ointments are more hydrating than lotions.

Look for scent-free laundry detergents labeled as hypoallergenic. Wear clothing fabrics that are soft and gentle such as cotton.

Wear gloves outdoors during cold days and when using harsh chemicals or other substances.

Seek the care of a dermatologist if your skin feels persistently dry despite the above measures. Sometimes very dry skin may require additional prescription medications or may signal the presence of another dermatologic diagnosis. A dermatologist can examine your skin to determine an appropriate treatment for your skin needs.

About the author

Valerie Harvey, MD, MPH