Cold, dry air can leave your skin itchy, red, and irritated, also called as winter eczema. Combat dry winter skin with these expert tips for retaining skin’s natural moisture.
Control water temperature: Long, steamy showers may sound like a great idea when it’s cold and blustery, but hot water can dry the skin. Dry skin from exposure to hot water or cool winter air can trigger an eczema flare-up.
Lock in moisture: Pat your skin dry instead of scrubbing. Apply a thick moisturiser within a few minutes after bathing to seal the water in the skin.
Gentle, fragrance-free cleansers: Bar soap can worsen dryness as it strips the skin’s natural oils and disrupts the microbiome. Look for washes that are labelled ‘for sensitive skin’ or ‘dye free’ and ‘fragrance-free.’ Often, they contain fewer drying ingredients and more moisturising ones like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, oils, shea butter, and oats.
Modify your skin care regimen: If your skin is dry and itchy, reduce the use of skin care products for the face that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinoids. These can worsen dryness and may even lead to irritant dermatitis. Add oils and creams to your skincare routine. At night, use a richer moisturiser for the body. For lips, a moisturising balm, such as petroleum jelly or another ointment, can help heal dry, cracked lips and prevent chapping.
Moisturise hands frequently: This is a must especially after washing your hands. There are a variety of hand creams in the market that will prevent hand dryness. Wear waterproof gloves to protect your hands while you’re washing dishes or cleaning around the house.
Apply sunscreen: Sunscreens aren’t just for summer, they are for winter as well. Before stepping out of the house, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Opt for a sunscreen with water resistance and moisturising ingredients such as lanolin or glycerin. Apply on all exposed areas including hands and feet.
Wear comfortable clothing: Keep wool and rough clothes from directly touching your skin. This can cause dry skin to get irritated and itchy. Instead, wear light layers made from soft, breathable materials like cotton or silk and then pull on your heavier, warmer sweaters.
Eat right and stay hydrated: Avoid processed foods and sugars, and eat whole foods that are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. These will keep the body and skin healthy.
If you follow these simple tips and make changes to your daily routine you can enjoy the winter months without having to deal with eczemas.
(Dr Usha Beloskar is the Medical Director, Sskin Savvy Advanced Aesthetics, Kohinoor Square Dadar, Mumbai)
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