Fight Winter Itch With These Tips

I love when November rolls around every year and I start to get that “itch” for cooler weather – the weather where I get to walk outside without sweating and open my windows to enjoy the cool, fresh air. The type of winter itch I don’t look forward to, though, is when it is associated with dry and cracked skin, which is also referred to as a winter itch.

“Winter itch is  a big problem in the colder climates, but it actually happens all across the country,” said Joshua Tournas, MD, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Banner Health Center – Mohs Dermatology in Sun City West. “Even in places like Arizona and California where you don’t normally see temperatures drop below zero, there are still drastic changes in weather that can still affect the skin,” he explained.

Below are some tips Dr. Tournas provided to help keep your skin healthy and itch free during the colder winter months.

  1. Avoid fragranced moisturizer During the holidays and at other times, fragranced lotions are popular, but they tend to be more water-based and may not be as effective in moisturizing and allowing your skin to hold it’s natural moisture. Choose instead a cream or an ointment and spritz on the fragrance.
  1. Choose the right moisturizer for your skin type:
So what type of moisturizer is right for your skin?
  • Very dry skin - Ointment: Delivers the highest amount of moisture. Good choice to use for when skin is dry to the point of peeling.
  • Dry Skin - Cream: Consists of about 50 percent water and 50 percent oil. Has a medium amount of thickness without feeling too heavy on your skin.
  • Mildly dry to normal skin Lotion: The most common over-the-counter moisturizer. Skin absorbs lotion very quickly but provides the lowest level of moisture that may not last throughout the day.
  1. Reduce the length of hot showers Taking a long, hot shower can warm you up on a cool winter morning, but the hotter and longer your bath or shower, the dryer your skin is going to get.
TIP: Apply a moisturizer, cream or ointment right out of a shower when the skin is still damp to lock in the body’s moisture and prevent evaporation loss after bathing.
  1. Don’t forget sunscreen
Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of a SPF 30 that contains either zinc oxide or avobenzone. Even though it is harder to get a sunburn and a tan in the winter than it is in the summer, you are still at risk for UVA and UVB damage that can dry out the skin and potentially cause skin cancer and photoaging.

Remember these tips as you are busily preparing for the holiday so winter itch doesn’t spoil your festivities.

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