Flaky skin and eczema can occur 365 days a year, but cold winter air can make dryness even worse. Dry skin is simply skin that does not have the optimal amount of oil and water in it. It is common to all ages and can be caused by things like genetics, spending the entire day in the pool, and aging. On the other hand, eczema is a severe type of dry skin in individuals who have a less effective natural moisturizing factor and is often made worse by environmental aggressors.
Wintertime is especially harsh on the skin. Forced air, hot showers, and cold weather all pull water from our skin. When the skin is dehydrated, it becomes a less effective barrier and chemicals will penetrate it more easily. This increases the risk of irritation and eczema flares, even with products you have used for months without a problem.
But even though winter can exacerbate dry, eczema-prone skin, don’t fear! You can still have dewy skin in winter (MOST of the time) by putting in the work to protect it. The key is staying aware of your environment and lifestyle choices. It’s also vital to know how to nourish, rehydrate, and protect vulnerable skin with products that have been approved by the National Eczema Association.
Here are my top tips to help care for—and prevent—sensitive, dry, eczema-prone skin this winter:
Tip 1: Boost hydration by applying a heavier moisturizer after every wash.
After you wash your face, you need to make sure you follow up with moisturizer to help replace the oils you washed away. For very dry skin, the heavier the cream, the better. Look for products with glycerin, a powerful humectant that pulls water out of the air and back into the skin, and squalane, a fatty acid your skin can easily absorb. Both these skin-loving ingredients are in Doctor Rogers Face Cream.
Tip 2: Avoid long, hot showers and baths.
Prolonged water contact can remove the water-soluble, natural moisturizing factors from the skin. This contributes to dryness, irritation, and can cause eczema flares. Before you get out of the shower, turn down the heat to a tepid temperature to help prevent your skin from losing more water when you step out of the humid shower. Dry off and immediately apply a thick, hypoallergenic body moisturizer like Doctor Rogers Body Cream.
Tip 3: Reduce topical skin treatments like retinol, peels, acids, and exfoliants during the winter months.
Don't do manual exfoliation of any kind, no matter what time of year, as it's all too easy to cause microcuts on the skin. This can lead to the loss of water, inflammation, collagen breakdown, skin aging, and eczema flares. However, chemical exfoliation can do wonders for dry skin—you just need to take it slow. You may only be able to tolerate these treatments a few nights a week because as your skin dries out, the better they penetrate. After any treatment step, always follow with a moisturizer. The same is true for your body skin—cut back on exfoliation! Don’t over-wash or scrub in the shower. Remember that shaving counts as exfoliation.
Tip 4: Don't over cleanse.
Instead of cleansing your face in the morning, just splash some water on it and pat it dry before applying your antioxidant serum followed by your moisturizer. When bathing, only use soap on the vital areas, like your armpits and groin. Hydrating liquid cleansers like Doctor Rogers Body Wash do not have the strong surfactants that can strip the skin of important oils and are a better choice for all-over lathering and shaving.
Tip 5: Stay away from products that contain fragrance, dyes, and other common allergens.
When your skin is drier, it absorbs more of what you put on it, making it more likely that you will have an unwanted reaction during the winter months. Ideally, you would use hypoallergenic products year round because fragrance does NOTHING for your skin. This is particularly important when your skin is more sensitive.
Tip 6: Don't skip the sunscreen.
Even though the winter months are colder, your skin may be absorbing more ultraviolet rays, so don't skip the sunscreen! I apply zinc-based sunscreen with at least 10% to my face every day. Zinc is a mineral that is soothing to the skin and the best choice for dry, easily irritated skin. Make sure to reapply if you are exposed to the sun, even on a winter day. I find that the powder forms of sunscreen are the easiest to reapply. I encourage my patients to stash them in their purse or car any time of year.
Bonus Tip: Slugging 101.
In extreme cases of dry skin, slugging with an ointment can be helpful. A few tricks about slugging: ointments do not contain water, so you want to dampen your face or apply a cream before the ointment for added hydration. Also, most ointments have a petroleum base which prevents water loss but does not add oil back into the skin. Our skin cannot absorb petroleum, mineral oil, or dimethicone. You will see a better result if you use a vegetable oil-based ointment like Doctor Rogers Healing Balm because our skin can absorb those fatty acids and use them to heal and protect.
Doctor Rogers products are incredibly effective at hydrating and are all approved by the National Eczema Association. They are safe and effective for all ages and for the most sensitive of skin, including eczema.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @doctor.rogers. Here’s to taking good care of ourselves!
Meet the author: Board-certified and practicing dermatologist, Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD, is the founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care and Modern Dermatology in Seattle, Washington. She studied at Stanford, University of Washington School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. She lectures nationally, is well published, and an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Highly respected among the skin care community, Dr. Rogers has been annually named “Top 1% of Most Honored Doctors in the US” by Castle Connolly.