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How to Deal with Dry Skin This Winter

Posted on: January 10th, 2024 by Dr. Christopher Crosby

Have you ever noticed that your skin gets dryer in the winter months? It’s not just your imagination: the colder temperatures and drop in humidity in the air can contribute to this problem. In this blog, the skin experts at Grossmont Dermatology and Medical Clinic discuss the reasons that dry skin becomes more prevalent during December, January, and February — and what you can do to stop your skin from drying out.

What Is Dry Skin?

Dry skin, also known as xerosis, is a common condition that can make your skin look and feel itchy, flaky, cracked, scaly, and/or rough. In brief, it occurs when your skin does not have sufficient moisture to keep it soft. You are most likely to notice it on your hands, feet, face, and elbows. Although dry skin is generally harmless, it can cause discomfort, particularly when it covers a larger surface area or lingers for an extended period. 

Why Does Dry Skin Strike During the Winter?

Unfortunately, cold temperatures and windy conditions can strip your skin of its natural oils, which are essential to keeping your skin moist. Scientists have also found that your skin produces less moisture and lipids (fatty acids that help to protect the epidermis) during the winter months, which leaves your skin more susceptible to irritation.

It’s not just the outdoor climate that affects your skin. Inside, central heating is often running during the winter. While heat helps to create a tolerable temperature, the air that is emitted is very dry and tends to suck the moisture out of the air. This serves to further dry out your skin.

Tips for Minimizing Winter Dry Skin

Our dermatologists offer some key tips to help prevent dry skin:

  1. Cover as much of your skin as possible. Wear gloves, pants, long sleeves, face masks, etc. when outdoors so that less of your skin is exposed to the cold temperatures and wind.
  2. Drink lots of water. While this is important any time of year, you need plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and smooth.
  3. Modify your skin care routine. Moisturizer is great for repairing dry skin, but other products like toners and serums do not work as well on unhealthy (dry) skin, so you may want to set these aside until your skin is no longer irritated.
  4. Purchase a humidifier. When indoors, especially when the heat is on, turn on a humidifier to restore some humidity into the air.
  5. Take warm showers rather than hot showers. Bathing in very hot weather may feel nice in the winter months, but extreme temperatures can pull moisture out of your skin, exacerbating dryness.

Meet with a Dermatologist about Your Dry Skin

If your dry skin is causing significant discomfort or will not go away with these home remedies, it is probably time to speak to a dermatologist. Our knowledgeable doctors can help to find solutions for your skin irritation. To make an appointment at our office in La Mesa, CA, please call (619) 462-1670.  

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology