Nov 24, 2014 12:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Whether you’re ready or not, winter weather is upon us. And as the seasons change, so should your skin care routine.

Cold weather zaps moisture from the skin because humidity drops during winter. People tend to exacerbate the problem by cranking up the heat, which makes indoor air drier. The result is skin that feels dry, chapped and even itchy. 

It can also lead to health problems. Dry skin creates small cracks that allow germs to enter. That can cause unsightly and uncomfortable skin conditions like eczema and other irritations.

“Dry skin and eczema tend to flare with the dry weather,” says Erika Summers, MD, a dermatologist with University of Utah Health.

Summers has five tips for caring for skin during winter.

1. Wear sunscreen. “Here in Salt Lake City, we live at a higher elevation and we still have significant sun exposure during the winter,” she says. Skiers and snowboarders especially need to wear sunscreen. “We see many patients with sunburns in the winter after they have been out on the snow.”

2. Limit bathing. Take just one shower or bath per day, as more tend to dry the skin. Wear gloves when washing dishes, or exposing hands to water for long periods.

3. Wash with a gentle skin cleanser. Summers’ pick is Cetaphil. She notes that other soaps can be harsh and very drying. 

4. Apply an emollient cream twice per day. Some to try are Cetaphil, Eucerin or CeraVe. Aquaphor ointment is also a great product. “It is best to apply the cream or ointment immediately after showering to ‘lock in’ the moisture,” Summers suggests. Contrary to popular belief, lotions can be drying, she says.  

5. Place a humidifier by the bedside. Humidifiers help alleviate dry skin and dry nasal passages, which can lead to nosebleeds.

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