The Best Way to Combat Dry Winter Skin


It is extremely common to experience itchy, dry, angry skin during winter months. Dry winter skin can range from simply experiencing rough or scaly skin on your hands, elbows or feet to agonizing over skin so dry that it cracks or bleeds. Skin that becomes dry as a result of cold climates is scientifically known as “xerosis” and can typically be remedied by applying a good moisturizer. If you are experiencing discomfort with your skin as a result of cold weather, schedule an appointment so your dermatologist can determine the best course of treatment. There are a variety of ways to combat dry winter skin and your board-certified dermatologist can develop a personalized treatment plan to return your skin to a healthy and smooth state. 

Understanding the Causes of Dry Winter Skin

The drop in humidity that occurs when winter sets in is what triggers skin dryness. The outside air being drier coupled with indoor air being drier from constantly running heaters means that the outermost layer of skin also begins to dry out. Your body becomes unable to retain its natural moisture which leads to itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable skin. Skin can become drier during the winter anywhere on the body, but most people focus treatments on their hands, face, elbows, knees and feet.

The Basics of Skin Moisturizers 

Moisturizers are ideal treatments for dry winter skin issues because they hold water in the outermost layer of skin. They also create a barrier on the skin that keeps natural oils from evaporating and prevents harmful outside elements from causing irritation. Since skin varies dramatically in different areas of your body, it is important to choose a moisturizer created specifically for your application needs and skin type. For example, you would not use the same heavy moisturizer for your feet that you would also use on the delicate facial skin, which could cause breakouts. Choosing a proper moisturizer can be a daunting task, but your cosmetic team at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting is here to help make expert recommendations based on your unique situation. 

Best Selling Moisturizers for Winter Skin

Patients needing assistance in finding the best way to combat winter skin are in luck—Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting carries numerous lines of scientifically-backed skin rejuvenation products and solutions. Popular brands we carry include SkinBetter Science, Alastin, Epionce, Elta MD, Sente, Glytone and Avene. Our bestselling moisturizers for patients who experience winter skin issues include:

  • Elta MD intense moisturizer
  • Avene clean AC cream
  • Sente dermal repair
  • Epionce medical barrier cream
  • Epionce intensive nourishing cream

There are also many excellent moisturizing creams we recommend that can be purchased over-the-counter at your favorite drugstore. Our dermatologists regularly suggest the following products for patients who are looking for the best way to combat dry winter skin:

  • CeraVe moisturizing cream
  • Aveeno daily moisturizing body lotion
  • Cetaphil moisturizing cream

Best Skin Treatments for Winter Skin

Patients suffering from dry, flaky winter skin may benefit from certain skin treatments offered at our office that work to exfoliate the skin. This removal of dead skin cells can help smooth the skin and prepare it to be more receptive to intensive moisturizing treatments. The following treatments may help to remedy dry winter skin:

  • HydraFacial MD® – A non-invasive treatment option that offers four rejuvenation techniques in one session: cleansing, exfoliation, extraction of impurities and nourishing hydration.
  • Microdermabrasion – A non-invasive treatment option that yields a refreshed, healthier glow to the skin through gentle exfoliation.
  • Chemical Peels – A superficial chemical peel treatment helps exfoliate and accelerate the removal of dead skin cells, which can accumulate during winter.

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Preventing Winter Skin Issues

It is much easier to prevent winter skin issues from arising than to reverse them after they have appeared. We typically recommend heavier moisturizers for our patients to use during winter months to prevent any discomfort that may be caused from drier air. Here are other helpful tips for keeping winter skin issues at bay:

  • Use gentle, non-soap based cleansers (like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Facial Cleanser). Steer clear of harsh soaps like Dial, Irish Spring or Lever 2000. 
  • Avoid using skincare products with fragrance, which can irritate the skin.
  • Take lukewarm showers, as hot water can further dry out skin. 
  • Avoid using sponge loofahs or other abrasive skin scrubbing tools.
  • Apply skin moisturizers while your skin is still damp after showering or bathing.

 If your skin feels tight, itchy, flaky or uncomfortable, you should schedule an appointment for a winter skin assessment. 

Schedule your appointment at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting for help combating winter skin issues. We are eager to develop a customized plan to help you achieve healthier, smoother, more comfortable skin.