Treating Dry Skin over the Winter Months:
One of the most common complaints in dermatology is dry skin, especially during the winter. There are several factors that contribute to dry skin including decreased humidity in the air, taking hot showers/baths, using drying soap on the skin, and not using a moisturizer on the skin after bathing or swimming. With these factors in mind, the solution is quite simple. Avoid taking hot showers/baths, use a mild non drying soap, and moisturize!
Taking hot showers or multiple showers daily will unfortunately strip the skin oils needed to maintain a healthy protective barrier. My suggestion is to take one shower daily or even every other day if your skin is excessively dry. Use tepid water instead of hot water as well. This is an extremely important rule to follow especially for skin that is prone to dry skin “rashes”. Another suggestion would be to avoid frequent use of saunas and/or hot tubs.
Using the correct soap is another critical factor in taking care of the skin during the harsh winter months. Soaps that are overly fragrant or deodorizing may dry the skin or cause irritation. There are hundreds of soaps available at drugstores, which makes it difficult to determine what soap to choose. I suggest using Dove unscented soap, Vanicream soap, or Cetaphil bar soap. Another helpful hint is to use soap under the arms and in the groin area only, and to avoid soap on the trunk and extremities to avoid over drying.
Moisturizing the skin immediately after bathing or swimming will help prevent dry skin as well. As a rule, I suggest using a heavy moisturizer versus a light weight moisturizer. One of my favorite moisturizers is Elta Moisturizer that we sell here at Dermatology PA. There are also some great moisturizers available at drugstores including Vanicream moisturizer, Cetaphil cream, and CeraVe cream. Generally speaking try to avoid moisturizers that are heavily scented.
It is important to point out that drinking more water will not help a dry skin rash. Thought is healthy to drink water on a daily basis, consuming a larger volume of water daily will not make the skin less dry. This is a common myth about dry skin rashes.
Sometimes despite following the steps listed above, dry skin rashes occur. Certain rashes are quite mild and may be treated with over the counter products, while others may require a prescription strength medication. It is important to be seen by a dermatologist if you have a new or persistent rash in order to rule out something that may be more serious. Please do not hesitate to call the clinic (952.374.5995) if you have any questions or concerns regarding issues with dry skin.