Winter is approaching and with the cold weather comes dry air and dry skin. One of the most common conditions dermatologists will see during this season is itchy skin. As you age your body starts to lose the ability to produce as many natural moisturizing factors as it did when you were younger. Fortunately, there are products you can use that will replenish your skin with the substances that we are no longer making in sufficient quantities to keep your skin as well hydrated as it once was.

Good Bathing Practices

Shower at least twice a week. The more active you are, the more often you will need to shower. But the more you shower, the more problems you will have with dry and irritable skin. Showers should be 5-10 minutes long instead of 20 minutes long. The longer the shower, the drier and irritable your skin will be. I often recommend getting in the shower and getting wet. Then, turn off the water and apply your shampoos and cleansers. Turn the water back on and rinse off. It is not only a “green” and responsible way to consume water, but it will also help your skin.Pat dry your skin. Rubbing your skin only causes problems. People often do it to “exfoliate” but, your skin naturally exfoliates and the more you try to force it to exfoliate by bad products or bad practices, the more problems you will have.After you bathe, apply lotion from the neck down while skin is still slightly damp. This helps “seal in” the moisture and often times makes all the difference in your routine. If your skin is still dry, apply lotion more often.

Bathing Mistakes

Do not make the water hot while showering. Hot water just rips the moisture out of your skin. You do not need to have the water so cold that you shiver during your shower. But, if the water is so hot that your bathroom mirror is fogged over, that the paint is coming off the walls from the steam, and your skin is so red you look like a lobster, then the water is way too hot and you are damaging your skin.

Don’t use soaps as they can be too irritating to the skin. Use good cleansers in the shower instead. Do not apply your cleanser with a washcloth, a loofah or a sponge. These products are too abrasive, are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria, and cause damage to the skin. Put your cleanser on with your hands. Do not scrub it into your skin. Let it rest on your skin for a minute and then rinse it off.

Again, unless you have a select few medical conditions that need medical intervention to help your skin exfoliate, you should not be manually exfoliating your skin. Do not overdo how often or how long you are in a hot tub. Most people should be able to handle going into the hot tub for 5-10 minutes once or twice a week. If you are in the hot tub for one hour every day, your skin will have problems. Rinse off after getting out of the hot tub and apply your lotion.

Recommended Products

The following products can be purchased without a prescription online or at your local drug store:

  • For cleansers, I recommend using Dove Sensitive Skin Body Bar, Cetaphil® Restoraderm® Body Wash, CeraVe® Cleanser, or Vanicream™ Cleansing Bar.
  • For moisturizers, my recommendation will depend on if you mind the “feel” of a moisturizer” on your skin. For those who do not like to “feel” the moisturizer, I recommend CeraVe® Lotion or Vanicream™ Lite Skin Care Lotion. Since these are not as “heavy” feeling, you will probably need to use them more often than the “thicker” ones that have more of a “feel” to them.
  • For those who do not mind the “feel” of a moisturizer, I recommend Cetaphil® Restoraderm® Moisturizer or Vanicream™ Moisturizing Skin Cream.

The above tips should keep your skin moist and happy this winter. If they do not solve your dry and irritable skin issues within 2 weeks, please see your doctor.

About the author

Dr. Anderson with Doctors Quarterly Magazine - Cropped
Dr. Reagan Anderson

Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and is actively involved in patient and healthcare provider education on dermatology conditions and treatment.

Colorado Dermatology Institute
8580 Scarborough Drive / 1220 Lake Plaza Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado