Why Winter Brings Itch (and How to Prevent It!)
Every winter, we bundle up in warm clothes and brave Cool temperatures, low humidity, and furnace-blasted dry air can leave your skin dry, flaky, and itchy. Everyone needs to protect his or her skin from drying out in winter, but if you have certain skin conditions, you should step up your routine to keep your skin healthy.
“Winter itch is a common name for the skin symptom of generalized itching in winter. While most commonly seen in the elderly and those with a history of asthma, allergies and eczema, anyone can experience winter itch,” says Dr. Vishakha Gigler, a board certified dermatologist.
With that in mind, here are a few steps everyone can take to prevent and relieve dry itchy skin in wintry weather:
- Avoid irritants: Try to avoid products that can irritate your skin such a fragrance, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners. Use a hypoallergenic laundry detergent and wear soft fabrics such as cotton.
- Add humidity to your home and office: Portable humidifiers or those that work with your heating system put moisture into the air that will be absorbed naturally by your skin and hair.
- Wear sunscreen:Sunscreen may make you think of the beach, but it’s important in winter, too. Be sure to apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to exposed areas to protect from the sun’s harmful UV rays before heading outdoors. Look for sunscreens with hyaluronic acid in them.
- Moisturize after showering: The most important thing with regards to bathing is what you do right after. Pat your skin dry with a towel and then apply a thick moisturizer to your skin. Apply in the morning and at night.
- Alleviate winter itch: To alleviate itch safely and effectively, toss a topical treatment into your bag for the day. A topical non steroid-based treatment providing fast itch relief is one option, and will help you avoid side effects like skin thinning, stretch marks, increased bruising and enlarged blood vessels.
- Protect against windburn: When heading outside on cold days, avoid windburn and prolonged exposure by wearing a hat, scarf, and gloves.
- Eat right: Stock up on foods with lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines, and avocados. These foods promote good skin health.
- Hand care: The skin on your hands is thinner than most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
With the proper skin care regimen, you will keep your skin smooth, healthy and itch-free. Stay warm out there!