Entering the heart of winter means a lot of cold weather, which can wreak havoc on your skin. For patients with eczema, dry winter air can make symptoms even worse. The best offense against harsh, dry skin is a good defense, says UAB dermatologist Marian Northington, MD. We asked Dr. Northington for her top tips to keep skin healthy and hydrated this season.
Shower Smarter. The easiest way to avoid dry skin is to start with a mild bar soap such as Dove and to moisturize with a cream (Northington likes Eucerin, Cetaphil, and CeraVe) instead of lotion. She also advises patients to avoid extremely hot showers during winter, which can dry skin out even more.
“Really hot showers can be drying, but no one wants to take a cold shower in the winter, so maybe compromise and use a slightly lower temperature,” she says.
Northington adds that it’s best to apply your moisturizing cream right after you shower, while skin is still damp. You get the same effect of a humidifier by just patting dry and applying moisturizer while the skin is still damp, which locks in the moisture.
Heal Dry Hands. Winter coincides with cold and flu season, when frequent hand washing is key. To prevent parched skin, “try to avoid hand sanitizers and liquid soaps, which are harsh, drying, and exacerbate hand eczema, and opt for gentler bar soap whenever possible,” Northington says.
After each hand washing, apply a cream such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream or an ointment such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment.
Drink Up. Though winter’s cold may leave you less thirsty than summer’s heat, staying hydrated is essential for good health and happy skin. “It is important to drink plenty of fluids, because dehydration can lead to dry skin, and dry skin is not only itchy, but it can also increase the appearance of wrinkles,” Dr. Northington says.
Humidify Your Home. Humidifiers can ease several forms of winter dryness, from sore throats to itchy skin. If you do use one, be sure to monitor your room’s humidity level and clean the humidifier regularly. Dirty humidifiers can actually breed mold and bacteria that can cause illness.
Get More Skin Secrets
Join Dr. Northington in her webinar: Look Your Best at Any Age, on Friday, January 25, at 12 pm.