Itchy Winter Skin
During the winter, you are more prone to developing dry and itchy skin. This condition is caused by being in cold and dry climates where indoor heating systems strip the air of humidity. The skin will appear rough and the flakiness causes it to feel itchy. If left untreated, dry skin can crack and become prone to infections.
Why Skin Gets Dry in Winter
Dry and itchy skin occurs when there is not enough moisture present. This causes the skin's natural protective oils to dry up and water loss to occur. Besides low-humidity climate conditions, other factors that can exacerbate the condition include exposure to harsh chemicals and bathing in hot soapy water for prolonged periods of time.
Replacing the natural oils in the skin can help dry and itchy winter skin. You can use a moisturizing lotion daily to keep the skin well hydrated. The best time to moisturize the skin is after bathing while the skin is still lightly damp. This locks the water into the skin to prevent dryness and itchiness. Besides a moisturizing lotion, a variety of oils can be used on winter skin. Some examples of oils that you can try are vegetable oil, canola oil and olive oil.
To relieve the itchiness of your skin, you can apply a topical hydrocortisone cream. Use the cream only on the red and itchy patches and limit use to only twice a day for a five- to 15-day period. If an over-the-counter cream does not relieve symptoms, contact your doctor about using a prescription-strength formulation.
One of the preventative steps you can take to combat winter skin problems is to replace the humidity in your home. Install a humidifier as part of your heating and cooling system or purchase a stand-alone machine. Keep the thermostat at a cooler temperature. While outside, wear protective clothing to protect the skin from cold and whipping winds.
If you notice any signs of pus or crust in the areas of your dry and itchy skin, contact your physician. This is a symptom of a bacterial infection and may require that you apply a medicated topical cream daily.
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