5 Ways to Prevent Dry Skin in the Winter   

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Skin in the Winter

Hand with dry skin
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Mariela Mitre, M.D.. Ph.D.
Aysha Seeni, M.D.
Satish Tadepalli, M.D.

When cold weather rushes in, our face and skin are often the first places we notice that winter has arrived. Dryness, red patches, flakiness, itchiness—winter weather leaves our skin feeling raw, parched and itchy. 

What’s the best way to keep skin looking hydrated and feeling healthy once winter arrives? 

Tips to Care for Skin in the Winter 

Here are some things you can do to take care of your skin and keep it from drying out during winter:

1. Moisturize.

“Hands especially get dried out from repeated washing,” says Mariela Mitre, M.D., Ph.D., dermatologist at Hackensack University Medical Center. Use a moisturizing cream after you wash your skin to help restore its natural oils. Use a mild soap, and avoid alcohol-based products that tend to pull moisture away from the skin. Cut back on exfoliators during winter since they could further irritate already dry skin.

2. Cover up.

Winter wear isn’t just for keeping warm; it also protects your skin from the cold, dry air. Before heading outdoors during the cold months, keep skin from being exposed to the elements by wearing gloves or mittens, scarves and hats. Wool accessories are better than cotton during winter because they help skin retain moisture, not to mention heat.

3. Exercise.

Getting the recommended amount of daily exercise not only helps build or maintain muscle, it also improves blood circulation, which helps your skin stay fit and more resilient.

4. Focus on good nutrition.

Sometimes people let go of their healthy eating habits during the cold winter months. “As holiday parties fill our calendars, comfort food tends to fill our bellies,” says Aysha Seeni, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Old Bridge Medical Center.

Your diet plays an important part in your skin health. Foods that are high in sugar and highly processed can wreak havoc on your body. Drink lots of water and eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, shrimp, walnuts and kidney beans, as well as foods high in antioxidants like nuts, beans, berries and dark leafy green vegetables.

5. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

“If you’re going to be outside for more than 20 minutes, regardless of the temperature, it’s important to wear SPF 30 or higher on exposed parts of your body,” says Dr. Seeni. “Don’t forget to reapply every two hours.” Remember, the snow can multiply your UV exposure in the winter, as it can reflect up to 90 percent of the UV radiation, so it is important to use eye protection, sunscreen and protective clothing during outdoor activities.

Why Does Skin Feel Drier during the Colder Months?

“The more time you spend outside, the more at risk you are for developing dry skin,” says Satish Tadepalli, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Ocean University Medical Center. Cold air holds less water than warm air, so skin gets less moisture when the temperatures dip. Skin becomes dried out, which can lead to uncomfortable chapping and itchiness, not to mention redness. Prolonged cold weather can also exacerbate existing skin issues like acne or rosacea.

Ask Your Doctor for Help

If you feel you’ve tried everything and still can’t seem to get your dry skin under control, talk with your primary care provider or dermatologist about other options. If the problem is chronic or severe, a doctor can recommend a suitable prescription medication or ointment to help.   

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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