Dr. Darlene Gou at Innovative Dermatology offers tips and advice for keeping healthy skin during winter!
Winter is the toughest season for dry, chapped, and itchy skin. The low ambient humidity and our indoor heated environments can definitely dry us out! Here are some skincare tips that are especially useful during cold weather, but are also helpful year-round!
Keep showers and baths short and warm, not hot. Soaking in a long, hot bath may feel good, but it leaves us dry and itchy. We recommend using warm water and limiting time in the shower or bath to less than 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, we start to break down the protective lipid barrier that keeps us moisturized. Remember, you would use hot soapy water to clean a greasy casserole dish, but you wouldn’t want to do that to your skin.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Once you get out of the tub, pat dry with a towel and immediately slather on that moisturizer! This is the most important step to seal in the existing moisturizer into your skin. The sooner you’re able to apply moisturizer right after the shower, the better. For areas that are tough to reach, there are products called the “Back Buddie” or “Body Buddy” that can help. (A dedicated kitchen spatula also works!) Certain moisturizers are also available in spray formulations that can reach the back.
Use ointments and creams instead of lotions. Thicker, greasier ointments and creams are more moisturizing than lotions, which are water-based. Products that are fragrance-free are also less irritating. Choose a moisturizer that is based on petroleum jelly, ceramides, or glycerin and use it liberally!
These are the most “high-yield” tips that are most important in keeping your skin hydrated. Other changes that have an additional benefit include:
- Wear gloves. Warm gloves help protect our hands from cold and windy weather. Wearing gloves before dishwashing or doing housework also limits our exposure to water and irritating chemicals. Finally, applying a moisturizer before bedtime and going to bed with cotton gloves is a great way to rehydrate the skin on our hands.
- Use a humidifier. The air is drier during the winter because water, at colder temperatures, tends to condense out of it. Using a humidifier to add moisture back to the air can be helpful for dry skin.
- Don’t forget a lip moisturizer. Chapped lips are especially common during the wintertime due to the cold and dry environment. Don’t lick your lips because our saliva can further dry out our lips and irritate the surrounding skin. Instead, use a thick greasy ointment (or even petroleum jelly) frequently throughout the day.
If you’re looking for more tips or still experiencing symptoms, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment to see a dermatologist! We are trained to examine your skin, explain what can help, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is effective. Contact us today or make an appointment now.