Winter Skin Care Guidelines

Jason C. McBean, MD adapted from the American Academy of Dermatology

Does your skin become dry, itchy and cracked during New England’s colder months? You are not alone. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 15 million people in the United States have some form of eczema. Eczema is a general term encompassing various inflamed skin conditions and it worsens during winter.
The low humidity during the winter can cause dry, irritated skin. Additionally, when we turn the heat on to warm our homes moisture is drawn out from our skin causing dryness, itching, and scratching. An itch- scratch cycle is created which can quickly become extremely irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. Check out the “winter skin guidelines” to help treat and prevent the winter skin blues.

  1. Use a humidifier: With the heat on and the windows closed, the air inside becomes very dry making eczema even worse. Use a humidifier to place moisture into the air. This can keep the skin from drying and becoming cracked.
  2. Switch to an oil-based moisturizer: Petrolatum is the gold standard by which all emollients are judged. Aquaphor ointment contains a rich concentration of petrolatum and is an excellent moisturizer especially when used on dampened skin.
  3. Before going outside in winter: Apply a heavy layer of moisturizer to exposed areas such as the hands and face. The moisturizer will act as a barrier against harsh elements of the outdoors. If skiing is a part of your winter tradition, using a moisturizing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is crucial.
  4. Grab those gloves: Protecting the hands from cold air and low humidity plays an important role in preventing flare-ups.
  5. Dress in layers: The most common triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating. Wearing layers allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating.

For more advice about sun protection and skin cancer treatment or prevention contact us at 203.259.7709.