How to care for dry skin in winter
You wrap up warm to protect yourself from the cold, but what about your skin? Cold weather makes the epidermis of the skin thinner and more delicate, leaving it prone to dryness and irritation. Read on for the best ways to soothe redness and stop your skin from drying out.
Dry skin and psoriasis
Red patches are a daily problem for people with psoriasis. When it’s cold outside, redness can get worse as the skin is dryer than usual. A study(1) carried out on 101 patients in 2000 found that 80% suffered worse irritation due to dry skin — far more than those who blamed stress (55%) and perspiration (65%). Heat can also cause dry skin, and this was the main complaint in 81% of patients.
Psoriasis itself can cause dryness too. This condition makes skin renew itself much more quickly than normal, causing flaking and dryness. Another study(2) carried out on 70 patients in South Korea compared healthy areas of skin with patches affected by psoriasis. The results showed that there was a direct link between the severity of the condition and how dry the skin was. Certain treatments for psoriasis, such as keratolytic treatments, actually dry out the skin too. You have to be careful that specialist skincare doesn’t end up dehydrating the epidermis even more.
Dry skin all over your body due to cold weather or pollution, and dryness as a result of psoriasis or specialised skin treatments, can all make irritation worse. Prevention is the best cure, so follow these few simple rules to protect your skin from the effects of the cold.
5 simple ways to prevent dry skin in winter
1. Wrap up warm
Warm coats, scarves, gloves and hats protect your skin from harsh weather. Avoid wool, which can rub against the skin, making irritation worse. If you need to, layer knitwear and woolly mittens over cotton or silk to protect your skin from contact.
2. Don’t overheat your home
If your eyes are dry when you wake up in the morning, then the air in your house is too dry. You can buy air humidifiers to adjust the humidity levels in your home. For a quick solution, place bowls of hot water under your radiators.
3. Don’t have too many baths
There’s nothing quite like a hot bath at the end of a cold day, but bathing your skin can dry it out more than a quick shower. Very hot water or very cold water also dry out your skin much more than warm water, so avoid extremes and spend as little time as possible in the water and avoid swimming pools if you can. Cleanse your face, but only wash it properly every two days, using soft, moisturising soap that won’t dry out the epidermis. Pat your skin gently to dry it, without rubbing, but make sure you don’t leave patches of damp skin behind your ears.
4. Use face and body moisturiser
After showering and before heading out into the cold, get into the habit of moisturising your skin. Choose simple skin products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and extra gentle. Rich moisturising creams or lotions are even more important for children and pregnant women, who can’t use many products formulated for treating psoriasis. Apply generously as and when required.
5. Don’t forget your sunscreen
As well as moisturising before you go out, don’t neglect your sunscreen, especially when skiing. Protecting your skin from UV rays is essential if you have psoriasis on your face. The slightest sunburn as a result of sunlight reflecting off snow can make dryness worse and aggravate patches of redness.
Don’t neglect a dry, itchy scalp
Cold weather can actually help redness caused by psoriasis on the scalp, while heat often makes it worse. Dry skin will still itch, however, so it’s important not to neglect your scalp. Use a deep moisturising shampoo to soften patches of dry skin and reduce itchiness.
1 - British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 143 Issue 5, November 2000
2 -Clinical & Experimental Dermatology, Volume 27 Issue 2, March 2002
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