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Why Your Skin Gets Dry in Winter: 11 Tips to Prevent Winter Dry Skin

HealthcareOnTime Team 2023-11-29 2023-11-30 3 Min Read
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  • Why Your Skin Gets Dry in Winter: Tips to Prevent Winter Dry Skin

    If you live in an area that sees a drastic drop in temperature during the winter months, you've likely experienced dry skin and other skin-related issues. Undoubtedly, dry skin in winter can sometimes be uncomfortable and even painful. But have you ever wondered why your skin becomes dry in winter and how to keep this from happening? 

    Why Skin Gets Dry in Winter?

    Dry skin, also called xerosis, is far more common during the winter months than it is in the summer months. The epidermis epidermis, which is the outermost layer, features the skin barrier. The skin barrier, which acts as a protective layer, comprises dead skin cells and lipids. However, for it to work well, moisture is necessary. Studies 1 has indicated that less water is present on the skin during the cold months, contributing to skin irritation and dryness, especially dry hands in winter.

    Additionally, when it is extremely cold outside, people usually turn on their indoor heaters, reducing the air's humidity level. This, in turn, can cause skin dryness and other winter-season skin problems. Hot showers 2 which people are likely to take during the winter, can also damage and dry out the skin's surface. 

    The other common cause of dry skin during winter can also be associated with aging, the skin loses moisture and oils, becoming more susceptible to dryness. Winter worsens age-related dryness. Certain medications, like those for hormonal acne or blood pressure, can induce side effects leading to skin dryness in winter.

    What Are The Common Symptoms of Dry Winter Skin?

    Now that we know why skin becomes dry in winter let's look at the common symptoms of winter dry skin:

    • Skin flaking
    • Cracks
    • Redness (in people with pale skin tones)
    • Rough patches
    • Stinging
    • Itching
    • Skin sensitivity

    People may experience some or all of the symptoms at the same time. So, for instance, some may experience a dry face in winter, while others might experience skin peeling throughout the body in winter. The severity of symptoms of winter dry skin can vary from person to person, and some individuals may be more prone to dry skin than others.

    Most Common Winter Skin Problems People Deal With

    Explore some of the most common winter season skin problems: 

    • Eczema: This skin condition is marked by dry, itchy, and irritated skin, with symptoms often exacerbated by exposure to cold and dry air. 4
    • Chapped Lips: Cold and dry weather conditions can lead to the cracking and irritation of lips.
    • Psoriasis: An autoimmune disorder characterized by the development of raised, red, and scaly patches on the skin. 5
    • Rosacea: A skin condition marked by red, itchy, and inflamed skin, often triggered by the dilation of blood vessels.
    • Cold Urticaria: An allergic skin reaction to cold exposure, leading to the formation of hives and itching.
    • Windburn: The cold winds of winter can cause skin irritation, resulting in dry, red, and burning skin.
    • Acne: Excessive oil production can result in the blockage of pores, accumulation of dead skin cells, and bacterial growth on the skin, leading to the development of acne.
    • Raynaud's Disease: This medical condition induces the narrowing of blood vessels in the extremities, resulting in impaired blood circulation and causing cold, painful sensations in the fingers and toes.
    • Cracked Heels and Hands: The skin on the hands and feet is particularly susceptible to dryness and cracking during winter. Exposure to cold air and frequent handwashing can exacerbate this issue.

    Read More: Winter Foot Care: 11 Home Remedies for Soft, Supple Feet

    How to Prevent Winter Dry Skin?

    Wondering how to prevent skin dryness in winter? Read on.

    For some people, winter dryness is a minor annoyance. For others, it can be extremely painful. Now that you know why your skin gets dark and dry in winter, changing your skincare routine and using the perfect products can help you keep your skin moisturized and smooth. Here are a few tips to prevent winter dryness on the face and body:

    • Moisturize your skin before washing: Before you wash any part of your body, make sure to moisturize your skin well. Washing typically strips away the skin oils, so you must replenish this moisture.
    • Use sunscreen: Many people forget to use sunscreen when it is cold outside, but this is a grave mistake. Remember that harmful UV light can damage your skin even in winter. So, apply a generous amount of sunscreen before you step out. The American Academy of Dermatology Association 3 advises sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.
    • Use an overnight treatment: If you're wondering how to keep your skin moisturized in winter for a long time, try using an overnight treatment. Since these treatments are heavy, they can help moisturize your skin. 
    • Change up your skincare routine: If your skin appears to be extremely irritated or sensitive and you're looking for how to protect your skin in winter, consider changing your skincare routine. So, for instance, if you use an alcohol-based toner, swap it out for a gentle cleanser. If you're going for skin products with added fragrance, use a fragrance-free product instead. 
    • Make use of a humidifier: A humidifier to add some moisture back into the air, especially when the air is arid, can be a best practice. According to Harvard Health Publishing 6, a humidifier with a setting of 60% can help replenish moisture. 
    • Reduce the temperature: While it may be comforting to have a warm bath or shower, warm water and hot air might strip away a good amount of the skin's natural oils. Using lukewarm water instead of hot can help you navigate winter skin problems optimally. 
    • Avoid using scrubs and exfoliants: Exfoliants and scrubs are a great way to keep your skin clean and smooth. However, you are looking for tips on avoiding skin darkening in winter. In that case, it's possible to stop over-exfoliating since this could irritate your skin further and cause discoloration and dryness.
    • Use occlusives: Most people will experience significant improvement in their symptoms once they start using an emollient. However, if you find that an emollient isn'tisn'tg much to improve your dry skin, consider using an occlusive. Occlusives include products like Vaseline, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, etc.
    • Drink sufficient water: The best way to prevent dry skin in the winter is by staying hydrated. Not drinking enough water can affect the appearance of your skin and make it more prone to drying out. So, be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Also, focus on eating a healthy diet that is high in antioxidants. 
    • Use non-irritating fabrics: When addressing how to avoid dry skin in winter, an important consideration is the type of fabrics you wear. If you are dealing with dry skin, avoiding wearing anything abrasive is important. Try wearing loose clothing made of natural fabrics instead. Also, avoid washing your clothes with regular detergent. Look for detergents with natural formulations or those formulated for sensitive skin. 
    • Wear gloves: If your hands become wet when wet, wearing gloves is very important for your skin. Ensure the gloves fit you well, protecting you from the cold air. When you're helping out, use warm, fuzzy gloves. If you're washing dishes or something, use silicone gloves so your hands don't come into contact with the cold water.

    Read More: Top 11 Fruits for Glowing Skin

    How to Treat Dry Skin in the Winter?

    While prevention is better than cure, you may still deal with dry skin and various winter skin problems. If your symptoms have increased in severity, there are a few things you can do for dry skin treatment in winter. Below, we'll look at how you can treat dry skin using creams and home remedies.

    How to Reduce Skin Dryness in Winter With Creams?

    Winter dry skin needs adequate moisture replenishment, especially during the colder months. If you want to treat your dry skin, it's essential to keep a simple skin care regimen that does not use unnecessary products, like heavy makeup, alcohol-based toners, and serums and oils with added fragrance. 

    Instead, using the following creams and solutions can improve the texture and dryness of your skin:

    • Moisturizer: The best way to treat dry skin is by using a good moisturizer. Use one that is thick and heavy-duty. But make sure the moisturizer you use is fragrance-free. An effective moisturizer can help rehydrate the skin barrier and prevent drying. Those with dehydrated skin should stay away from light creams and lotions since they might not protect the skin well enough. 
    • Emollients: You can also use creams and moisturizers that contain emollients, like linoleic and lauric acids. These emollients can help smoothen the skin and fill out any spaces between the cells where there has been some moisture loss. 
    • Humectants: Dry skin care in winter is essential, and humectants, like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and sorbitol, are a great option since they can help attract moisture to the skin. You can also try using products with ingredients like silicone, mineral oil, and lanolin, given that these substances help seal the water on the skin. 

    Remember that it is important to use a moisturizer or other skincare products to hydrate your skin occasionally. The American Academy of Dermatology Association 7 recommends applying moisturizer as soon as you finish your shower. This will help seal in most of the moisture.

    How to Get Rid of Dry Skin During Winter With Home Remedies?

    Here, take care of your skin in winter using simple home remedies:

    • Use a different skincare routine, especially for winters
    • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
    • Avoid drinking alcohol or too much caffeine
    • Limit your exposure to heat and cold air
    • Use virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil as a moisturizer for its fatty acids
    • Mix yogurt and honey for exfoliation and moisturization.
    • Apply shea butter as a rich emollient to lock in moisture.
    • Include foods like salmon and flaxseeds in your diet.
    • Mix honey with glycerin and apply to retain moisture (natural humectant).
    • Avoid possible allergens that could irritate the skin

    Read More: Healthy Skin Secrets: 8 Vitamin E-Rich Foods for Radiant Glow

    What Can You Do to Maintain Healthy Skin During Winter?

    Once you know how to get rid of dry skin during winter, you can focus on maintaining healthy-looking skin. Here are a few tips:

    • Use natural moisturizers like honey and virgin coconut oil.
    • Soak yourself in an oatmeal bath to soothe dry skin. 
    • Apply fresh aloe vera gel on irritated skin for relief.
    • Wear protective clothing like gloves, scarves, and leggings to protect your skin from the cold.
    • Eat a Balanced Diet and Nutrient-Rich Diet with a good amount of greens, protein, and healthy fats.
    • Drink an adequate amount of water to maintain skin moisture.
    • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, even in winter.
    • Exercise regularly to improve blood circulation.
    • Avoid prolonged exposure to direct heat sources (Sunlight)

    Read More: 12 Winter Skincare Essentials for a Nourished Skin

    What Should You Do If You Still Have Dry Winter Skin?

    Persistent dry skin despite trying multiple remedies could be indicative of an underlying medical condition. In such cases, it is advisable to explore specific medical tests:

    • Allergy Tests or Food Intolerance Profiles: Skin problems can be exacerbated by allergies or food intolerances. Seeing an allergist for an allergy test or a food intolerance profile can help you discover any triggers for your dry skin. This is especially crucial if you have a history of skin irritation after eating certain foods or coming into touch with specific allergens.
    • Blood Sugar Test: Dry, itchy skin can be associated with poor circulation, a common concern for individuals with diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation and lead to skin problems. To assess this, consider a blood sugar test, which can be done at home or in a healthcare setting.
    • Thyroid Function Tests: Hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive, can contribute to skin dryness and patchiness across the body. If you're experiencing other symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, or changes in hair texture, it may be beneficial to undergo thyroid function tests.
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Sometimes, deficiencies in essential nutrients, such as iron or vitamin deficiencies, can manifest as skin issues. A complete blood count test can help identify any abnormalities in blood cell counts, providing insights into potential nutritional deficiencies.
    • Skin Biopsy (if necessary): In certain cases where the cause of dry skin is unclear, a dermatologist may recommend a skin biopsy. This involves removing a small sample of skin for laboratory analysis, helping to identify specific skin conditions or disorders.

    Self-diagnosis and treatment without professional guidance may not address the root cause of the skin issue. If you're concerned about persistent dry skin in winter, considering a skin assessment for skin concerns is essential, and consulting with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or allergist, is crucial for a thorough evaluation and appropriate diagnostic testing. They can then guide you toward an effective treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and underlying health conditions.


    The information listed here is strictly for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. Do consult your physician for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. It’s not advised to disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information listed here. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.


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