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Dry, Irritated Skin? Try These Dermatologist Approved Winter Skincare Tips

Woman follows proper winter skincare by applying sunscreen

Itchy dry skin, chapped lips and painful cracked hands can plague anyone during the winter months. For those with certain skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, the cold, dry conditions can lead to uncomfortable flare ups.

Yale New Haven Hospital-affiliated dermatologist Jeffrey Cohen, MD, Director of the Psoriasis Treatment Program at Yale School of Medicine says the best way to deal with winter skin issues is to focus on prevention.

“The most important thing is to take very gentle care of your skin,” Dr. Cohen said. Here are his top tips:

Avoid hot showers

Nothing feels better on a bitter cold day than taking a steamy hot shower or bath, but hot water can irritate and ultimately dry out the skin. Instead, opt for a lukewarm shower and use very gentle soap.

Avoid scents

Scented soaps, beauty products, laundry detergent and dryer sheets can all irritate skin. Switch to unscented products and ‘free and clear’ laundry products.

Moisturize often

It seems counterintuitive, but the process of bathing causes the skin to become even more dry. Therefore, the best time to moisturize the skin is right after a shower or bath while the skin is still damp. Also aim to moisturize the skin twice a day. If you’re washing hands more often to avoid getting sick during the respiratory illness season, don’t forget to frequently use a gentle moisturizer on your hands too.

Keep lip care simple

There are plenty of flavored and scented lip balms available, but they can be irritating. Instead opt for Vaseline or Aquaphor, two products that create a barrier to protect the skin and provide moisture. These products can be used on other irritated areas too, like the face and hands.

Don’t forget sunscreen

“I think a lot of people are much more attuned to sun protection during the summer months when It's sunny and people are spending more time outside, but it turns out that the UV rays of the sun, even when it's cold outside, are still strong,” said Dr. Cohen.

Everyone should wear an SPF every day, even in the winter. It’s especially important for those with rosacea or lupus, or for anyone spending time outdoors. Light reflecting off the snow can result in burns for skiers and snowboarders.

Kids need winter skin care too

Parents know frequent hand washing while kids are sick, and a nightly bath can cause dry, itchy skin. Just like with adults, kids benefit from unscented bath products and laundry detergent. Make sure to keep their sensitive skin moisturized often with a gentle moisturizer made specifically for kids or babies.