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Dry Skin in the Fall and Winter

The cooler months mean the heaters are about to come on. When this happens they tend to pull moisture out of the air, making fall and winter the worst times for dry skin. Conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis tend to flare up at this time of year. Some basic dry skin care steps are outlined below. The first 7 are good general principles most people can benefit from, the last few items are for people with the most severe dryness.

  1. Use moisturizers such as Vanicream, best for people with very sensitive skin, or Cerave a more general purpose slightly lighter cream, Eucerin cream, Cetaphil cream, Aquaphor or Vaseline petroleum jelly several times a day, especially after bathing or washing to lock-in moisture. In general creams are better than lotions.
  2. Use very little soap, and only in areas needed. Use a mild soap such as Dove sensitive skin bar soap. If your skin is very dry, Cetaphil cleanser is an alternative to Dove soap.
  3. Do not vigorously scrub with a washcloth, sponge, or brush.
  4. Reduce bathing time to 5 minutes, and always apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing.
  5. Use lukewarm water-avoid hot or cold water.
  6. After bathing or washing, pat your skin with a towel to dry gently.
  7. Do not use bubble bath.
  8. Do not use colognes, perfumes, sprays, powders etc. on your skin.
  9. Use unscented laundry products—both detergents and fabric softeners. If dry skin or inflammation persists with lubrication or prescription medication, you can also double rinse clothes after washing.
  10. Prescription creams and ointments should be applied to affected areas. Moisturizers are best applied at different times: if applied at the same time as prescription ointments or creams, always apply the prescription medication first.
  11. Do not wear tight or rough clothing. Wool clothes and new clothes can be irritating.
  12. Avoid saunas and steam baths
  13. For extreme dryness, a humidifier or vaporizer may help. Remember to keep it clean or molds may spread throughout the humidified area.

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