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16 Tips to Prevent the Winter Itch

By: Dr. Wang Skincare Education Team

Nov 27, 2015

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Winter is a very good time of the year for feeling toasty warm, wrapped up in a blanket by the fireplace. But frigid temperatures, low humidity, and furnace-blasted dry air can make your skin become flaky, dry and itchy.

As the seasons change, our skin takes the hardest toll. The cold dry air can leave our skin dry, itchy, irritated and red.

10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Itch

For certain people, especially those with eczema, winter and early spring can be even more difficult. Dry skin can be both unsightly or uncomfortable, excessively dry skin can lead to cracked skin with fissures. It can even lead to terrible itch that can drive the most disciplined person to scratch incessantly for relief.

Itch can be so intense that some people just kept on scratching despite bleeding. At times, the itch can lead to disruption in sleep and even skin infections from scratching.

To combat the itchy and dry skin, you may be constantly wielding new lotions to find relief and fight of itch on your hands, arms and legs.

While moisturizing properly is important, dermatologists say there are some other easy solutions and habits that may be even simpler and better to increase the skin's natural moisture and prevent it from getting dehydrated.

Tips to Prevent Dry Itchy Winter Skin:

1. Stop taking long and hot showers:

When the temperatures drop, we are always tempted to warm ourselves up by taking a long hot shower, thinking it will keep us warm and kick off the cold.

However, this might work for a few minutes while taking the shower or after it, but the bitter truth is that the hot water dries out the skin by robbing it of its natural oils.

A better alternative is to take a shorter shower or bath in lukewarm water, as this really works a lot.

This principle also applies to washing your hands. Avoid using hot water to wash your hands as it can turn your skin red if the water is too hot.

2. Select your soap carefully:

When you don't select your soap carefully, or you are the kind of person who just picks up any kind of soap when taking your bath, you really need to be watchful, as this might worsen dry, itchy skin.

Regular bar soaps generally contain irritating ingredients and fragrance.

A better alternative is to start using soap free of synthetic fragrance. Also, using less soap can also help prevent winter skin problems.

3. Always moisturize:

During winter months, maintaining healthy skin by moisturizing your whole body after washing.

Dry your hands and body by blotting the skin dry with the towel, make sure you don't rub. Then apply a moisturizer immediately after to seal the water into the skin. Using lotions, cream or ointments are best for warmer, humid climates. Consider trying herbal skincare moisturizers. Compared to generic moisturizers, herbal infused moisturizers may have anti-inflmmatory and extra soothing properties.

4. Adjust your facial skin care procedure for the season: In the winter months, consider avoiding toners and astringents cleansers for the winter months. Some astringents contain alcohol which can dry skin out even more.

Make sure you select products that contain little or no alcohol but be aware that if your skin is oily this approach is not for you. Remember to apply a rich moisturizer on your face at night or before you go to bed.


5. Don't forget to use sunscreen:

Even during the winter months, it is important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Apply a moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher before going outside. This should be applied to all exposed skin, keeping them safe and healthy.

For those with sensitive skin, it is best to consider using mineral-based sunscreens containing TiO2 and ZnO. 

6. Examine your wardrobe:

Although wearing a nice warm sweater sounds good on cold days, a wool fabric can aggravate dry winter skin, making it itchy. By keeping wool and rough clothing from directly touching your skin, this can alleviate itchy, irritated, dry skin. Instead, wear soft breathable materials under that favorite sweater. Most importantly is to protect your hands. Wearing gloves or mittens will protect them from the cold and from drying out in this season.

7. Change your thermostat:

When it's chilly out the first thing most of us do is to crank up the thermostat. Central heat can make the air in your home dry. Setting the thermostat to a comfortable 68°F to 72°F will help maintain healthy winter skin. As a side benefits, lowering down the room temperature also helps to decrease your monthly heating bills. 

8. Use a humidifier:

Using a humidifier in your sweet home can add moisture to the dry winter air and will help keep your skin hydrated.

Run a humidifier in the room where you spent the most time in, such as the bedroom. Also, do you know that a house heated by a furnace can have up to 30% less moisture in the air than otherwise?

Now, you might not notice the difference, but that arid air tends to worsen skin dryness with time. Thus, a humidifier is a wise investment. Luckily, cheap, and minimal options aren't all that hard to come by. Get one today and save your skin from itch during this period.

9. Drink plenty of water:

In conclusion, the most important tip to keep in mind in this period is to drink plenty of water when your skin is very dry. It has worked most times for our patients and customers. Although supplements such as fish oil and flaxseed oil can help restore the skin's hydration, the best approach is for you to drink more water. And water is absolutely free. Some sources suggest that you need at least 16 ounces of water a day. 

10. Seek Professional Help:

If your winter itch is getting out of hand, you are just miserable. Go see a dermatologist who can prescribe a medicated cream to help with the symptoms.

winter dry itchy skin

6 Actions that will make the winter skin problem worse:

  1. Taking very hot and prolonged showers. Although it is soothing and relaxing at the moment, those long hot showers will dry your skin.
  2. Scrubbing your skin dry with towels. The rough scrubbing irritates the skin. Just pat your skin dry with a towel after showering.
  3. Sitting next to a radiator, heater or fireplace for extended periods of time. Heat exposure will further dry out the skin.
  4. Washing with harsh soaps or cleansers, which can strip away all the lipids on the skin.
  5. Scratching. It is easy to say but hard to follow. Read about the Itch-Scratch cycle.
  6. Waiting for your skin to dry. Use moisturizers on a daily basis even when it is calm and healthy.

Final Thoughts

Following all these above tips this season will help you maintain healthy skin in the winter months. Keep in mind that only practicing one tip may not achieve the results you are hoping for.

Therefore, if you have not been doing any of the tips mentioned above, or you have been doing some, our advice is to start and incorporate them in your daily routine, as it will be really helpful and will save your skin from feeling dry and itchy in the winter days.

Let us know if any of these tips will help you to find relief for the dry itchy skin in the winter.


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