After weeks of hot and humid weather, the autumn and winter months usher in a time of cooler, dryer air that affects skin’s moisture. Depending on various factors, the skin could become quite dry. If one does not moisturize and take other steps to prevent excessive drying, skin problems can present themselves.

Dry skin is caused by:

• Exposure to extremely dry weather
• Indoor heating
• A weak barrier function, such as eczema
• Harsh soaps, detergents, or chemicals
• Lifestyle factors like sun exposure, alcohol consumption, smoking
• Aging

Dry skin flakes, peels off, and becomes crusty. If the skin is allowed to dry to the point of cracking, there is an increased chance of infection occurring. Sometimes dry skin itches, which leads to scratching.

While nothing can be done about some of the causes of skin dryness, there are a few steps that a person can take to keep their skin supple.

Minimize Drying Environmental Factors

A person may live in a place that is terribly dry, which is exacerbated in the winter by the use of heaters. A humidifier or boiling water with the lid off would humidify the air.

Cover Up

Wear long sleeves and higher necklines to keep skin moisture in during the winter months. Cranking up the heat and wearing short sleeves inside does not do a person’s skin any favors.

Alter Bathing Habits

Hot water dries the skin, as does bathing too frequently. One bath or shower daily in warm water would be a good balance between proper hygiene and skin health in dry environments. Pat dry instead of thoroughly drying. Then apply a moisturizer to seal the moisture in.

Use Mild, Fragrance-Free Cleansers and Wear Gloves

Harsh soaps, cleansers, and chemicals dry the skin. Use mild soaps when possible. Allergies to fragrances or other ingredients in a moisturizer can also irritate skin, so fragrance-free, hyperallergenic options may need to be used. Wear gloves whenever cleaning to protect hands from drying.

Moisturize Regularly with a Good Moisturizer

In addition to moisturizing after baths, it’s a good idea to moisturize between bath times too. Even though moisturizing after a bath seals in moisture, the moisture eventually evaporates, especially in dry air. Reapplication of a good moisturizer would keep the skin supple to the touch and healthy in appearance.

A person who has excessively dry skin needs a very thick moisturizer, while an oily-skinned person can get away with a lighter moisturizer. Fragrance may appeal to people who do not have an allergy to fragrances. Something hypoallergenic would be good for people with allergies. Price is another factor, once the other criteria of a moisturizing product have been met.

Continue to Wear Sunscreen

While the sun’s UVB rays are stronger during the summer months, the sun is closer to the earth in wintertime. Additionally, UVB rays reflect off of snow, and the ozone layer is thinner now than ever before. These factors mean that it is still possible to get a sunburn, skin cancer, or age the skin from sun exposure in the winter. Wearing a sunscreen on one’s face or other exposed areas is as important to skin health in the winter as it is in the summer months.

While summertime reminds people to apply sunscreen and moisturizers, it’s just as important during the winter months. Continue to minimize the dry environment, use moisturizers, and do what you can to take care of your skin during the cold months of winter.