The AAD recently provided helpful suggestions from a board-certified dermatologist to maintain healthy skin during the winter months.

Board-certified dermatologist, Elizabeth Kiracofe, MD, FAAD, who is in private practice in Chicago, stated, “Keeping our hands, feet and face protected from the cold weather is an essential part of preventing dry skin as well as stopping it from worsening. We can’t hibernate inside all winter, so when you’re out and about, make sure that as little skin as possible is exposed to the elements and you protect your lips by wearing lip balm.”

Moreover, since the weather changes throughout the year, it is critical to ensure that skin care regimens align with the particular season and weather changes. For example, what works well in the summer might not work as well during times when the humidity levels are low, such as during the winter season. Additionally, while dry, cold air increases risk of dry, itchy skin, these types of weather conditions can also make the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles more visible.

Dr. Kiracofe also stated, “You don’t need to change every product you use, but you should switch to heavier creams when it’s cold. I recommend that my patients cut back on products that have alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid, which can reduce the signs of aging by smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. In the winter months, these products can be irritating for the skin even when combined with moisturizing creams.”

“Adequate sleep is such an essential component to maintaining healthy skin, and that uninterrupted time in the night is the perfect opportunity for the skin to recover,” added Dr. Kiracofe. “This is why, in winter, I recommend patients consider adding a filtered, cool-mist humidifier in their bedrooms. Not only can this help treat dryness, but it can be an effective tool for prevention. You don’t need to wait until you get irritated or cracked skin to make an improvement to your environment.”

If the skin is very dry or raw, clothes and laundry detergent can be irritating, and experts suggest wearing fabrics made of soft fibers (e.g., cotton or silk) that will not cause irritation and using “fragrance-free” laundry detergents.

Dr. Kiracofe and the AAD recommend the following tips for relieving dry skin and keeping skin moisturized and hydrated such as:

• Apply moisturizer immediately after washing, which seals existing moisture in the skin.
• Utilize an ointment or cream since these formulations are more effective and less irritating than lotions.
• Utilize warm water instead of hot water during baths and showers to thwart dry skin from worsening.
• Use only gentle, fragrance-free skin care products since some dermatological care products (e.g., antibacterial, deodorant, and scented soaps) are too harsh for dry, sensitive skin.

Moreover, if using these self-care treatments do not work, seek further care from a board-certified dermatologist.

Lastly, Dr. Kiracofe stated, “Often, a prescription is needed to help treat the inflammation or dryness that’s gotten out of control. That’s why I always tell patients you don’t have to be in pain or itching before you come see me. If you’re noticing your skin is changing, and you can’t improve its condition on your own, come in. Don’t wait until your knuckles are bleeding or your lips are cracked. Board-certified dermatologists can give you recommendations to hydrate and prevent dry skin and prescribe a medication if you need it.”

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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