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Dry skin prevention and treatment

Cold air outside, hot air inside, and dry air everywhere can disrupt the skin’s barrier in the winter. And that can mean dry, itchy skin for everyone, but especially for those who deal with conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Here are some tips from the professionals at Dermatology Specialists of Florida – your local skincare experts.
  • Bathing: Use unscented bar soap; liquid soaps are too drying. Do not scrub soap all over the body or take bubble baths. Avoid hot water; use only lukewarm water. Do not scrub the skin or use a loofah. Gently pat the skin dry after a bath/shower and immediately apply moisturizer.

Dermatologist Recommendation: Dove unscented bar soap or Cetaphil bar soap

  • Moisturizers: The number of times per day that moisturizers are needed depends on the severity of the dry skin. Babies with severe dry skin usually need moisturizers applied all over their skin at every diaper change. Older children and adults usually need moisturizers applied 2-3 times per day depending upon severity. Moisturizing your body while your skin is still damp after a shower or bath is an effective way to keep skin hydrated. This is because moisturizer traps existing moisture in skin.

Dermatologist recommendation: Ointments and creams that you squeeze from a tube or scoop from a tub, as opposed to ones you pump from a bottle, as thicker formulations typically pack more moisture. Avoid moisturizers with fragrances.

  • Itching: Rubbing or scratching the skin worsens dry skin. If there is an itchy area, applying something cold (like a bag of frozen peas for a few minutes) or using an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl can be helpful.

Dermatologist Recommendation: Avoid overheating, excessive sweating and rough, scratchy clothing. A cool mist humidifier in the bedroom at night can be helpful, especially during the winter when humidity is low.

  • Sunscreens: Yes, you should be wearing sunscreen year-round on areas not covered by clothing, like the face, neck, ears, and hands. You can also protect your skin from the sun in the winter by seeking shade and wearing accessories, such as gloves and sunglasses with UV protection.

Dermatologist Recommendation: Choose moisturizing sunscreen products, such as creams instead of lotions or sprays. Or use a moisturizer and then apply sunscreen on top. Your sunscreen should offer broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and have an SPF of at least 30. Physical sunscreens containing only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (usually the ones that say “sensitive” skin) are preferred over chemical sunscreens.

  • Rejuvenating products: Many anti-aging products contain ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or retinol. Not everyone’s skin can handle these active ingredients every day, and that sensitivity is only greater in winter. However, with a few minor modifications, these products can be used safely year-round.

Dermatologist Recommendation: If you use prescription retinoids regularly, but find them too drying in the winter, consider applying it less often, or at a lower concentration.

With the right self-care, many people can heal dry skin at home. If you continue to have dry skin or it worsens, something other than dry air may be causing your dry skin. Excessively dry skin can develop due to:

  • An underlying medical condition, such as atopic dermatitis or kidney disease
  • Medication you take
  • What you touch throughout the day, such as certain foods
  • Age

A dermatologist can diagnose what’s causing your dry skin. If you have a condition that affects your skin, such as atopic dermatitis, your dermatologist can create a treatment plan for you. Treatment can help control the skin condition and relieve the dryness.

Dermatology Specialists of Florida
2053 Fountain Professional Court, Suite B

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