Dry itchy skin is almost an inevitable as the winter itself. Many people dread this season because they know it brings a tight, uncomfortable feeling to their skin, which may soon begin to crack and flake. While this situation may seem like it can’t be prevented, you actually have much more power than you realize.
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Why does Winter Cause Dry Itchy Skin?
The winter weather provides ideal conditions for developing dry itchy skin. Humidity levels in the outdoor air naturally drop, which means that it is cold and dry. These conditions cause the water that’s supposed to be trapped just beneath the outer layer of your skin to evaporate. That’s where that dry, tight feeling comes from. The results are even more severe for people who continue to enjoy outdoor sports throughout the cold season. All of that cold, dry air whooshing by as you ski, snowboard or even bike can cause a great deal of discomfort. Researchers estimate that your skin’s ability to retain moisture is cut down by at least one-quarter in the winter. Dry itchy skin is certain to follow if you don’t take proper precautions.
Indoor heating only conspires to make the situation worse. People tend to be indoors more frequently and for longer stretches of time when it’s cold outside. This exposes them to the incredibly dry, warm air that is produced by heating systems. All of that hot air causes dry itchy skin, but it has other consequences too. It dries out the mucous membranes, which can cause a multitude of problems. If you suffer from chapped lips, nose bleeds and a dry throat during cold weather, indoor heating is likely a contributing factor.
How Water Can Play a Role in Dry Skin
Dry itchy skin is only exacerbated when people take long, hot showers in the winter. The hot water feels heavenly, but it’s actually stripping essential, natural oils from your skin. This leaves you feeling drier and itchier than you were before you showered.
Another factor that people often overlook is dehydration. You may not feel as thirsty when it’s cold outside as you do when it’s hot, but your water intake is just as crucial during the winter. Once you understand that your body is made up of 70 percent water, you’ll begin to see how important it is to stay hydrated and how dehydration can contribute to dry itchy skin. When you’re taking in an adequate amount of water, your cells, including those in your skin, will be healthier and plumper, and this can help eliminate the feeling of dry skin.
Making Your Skin Healthier During the Winter Months
There are many reasons why you get dry itchy skin in the winter. Fortunately, there are just as many solutions. Here’s some things you can do to help your skin out:
- Try to limit your time outdoors when conditions are particularly harsh
- When you do go outside, protect your skin with coats, gloves and scarves so it doesn’t get exposed to the elements
- Take the protection one step further by layering on a quality moisturizer to help trap moisture in the skin
- Consider turning down the temperature indoors so that you’re not being bombarded with hot, dry air
- Using a humidifier puts some extra moisture in the air, which can be a relief to dry itchy skin.
- Keep showers to no more than 5 minutes’ duration, and make certain that the water temperature is lukewarm.
- Consider only using cleansers instead of a soap, and only on the parts of your body that sweat.
- Carefully dry yourself by patting instead of rubbing, then immediately use a rich moisturizer.
- Be sure to use it all over your body, even those parts that don’t get exposed much during the winter.
- Consider reapplying moisturizer before you go outside and when getting ready for bed.
- Make certain that you drink plenty of water throughout the day, avoiding caffeinated beverages that may only dehydrate you further.
If you take all of these measures and don’t feel like your dry itchy skin problem has been solved, then it’s time to seek professional help from a dermatologist. It may be that you have a skin condition like psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis that is causing the issues. Consult with our office to find out why your dry itchy skin seems determined to stay throughout the winter.