Do you find that your skin begins to feel tight and itchy once the weather gets cold? If so, you're definitely not alone. Many people experience itchy skin during the winter. Fortunately, this is a condition that is usually easy and inexpensive to treat. In this article, you will find out why skin tends to get itchy during the colder months and how you can effectively treat this condition.
Why Skin Itches during Colder Months
When the weather gets cold, many people start to get skin that feels tight and itchy. In addition, their skin may start to peel, crack or have an ashy appearance. This is caused by dry skin, which is common during the winter months, particularly in areas of the country where the temperature drops below freezing temperatures. However, there are several causes beyond just the cold weather that can contribute to dry, itchy skin in the winter.
One of the biggest contributors to itchy winter skin is turning on the heat in your home or at work. Central heat in particular can dry out the skin, but other types of heat can also make your skin dry out. That's because the increased heat in your home eliminates some of the humidity, causing your skin to lose moisture. As you are exposed to this heat day after day, the dryness and itchiness may get worse.
Tips to Avoid Itchy Skin in the Winter
Getting dry, itchy skin in the winter can be a huge hassle and an annoyance in your daily life. The good news is that most of the symptoms related to this condition can be treated with inexpensive products from your local drugstores and shops. Among the best products to use for itchy skin in the winter are:
- Moisturizers: In the winter, the best types of moisturizers to use are ones that are oil-based rather than water-based. These are thicker and create a protective layer on the skin that will keep moisture in your skin for longer periods of time. Just remember that you should choose a "non-clogging" oil like avocado oil, primrose oil, almond oil or mineral oil when you want to use moisturizer on your face.
- Sunscreen: Despite the cold temperatures, you can still get sunburned during the winter, which will make your skin even drier. In fact, many people are more susceptible to sunburn in the winter because they are less likely to think they need sunscreen. When you plan to be outside, put on sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 about 30 minutes before going out. If you are out for longer periods of time, reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours.
- Gloves: Your hands are one part of your body that is exposed to the cold more often, so protect them whenever you can by wearing warm gloves. You may want to avoid wool gloves, however, since the fabric may irritate your skin.
- Humidifier: Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help to counteract the effects of using heat in your home or your office. Place the humidifier in rooms where you spend most of your time to get the best results.
- Oatmeal: Try taking a bath with oatmeal in it to give some relief to your itching. In addition to taking these soothing baths, you should also avoid taking very hot baths and showers in the winter. Although it may feel good if you've been out in the cold, it will only dry out your skin more. Instead, use warm water and try not to stay in the bath or the shower for too long.
When to See a Doctor
In many situations, itchy skin in the winter can be treated at home with over-the-counter products. However, there are some situations in which itchy winter skin may require a visit to the doctor. If the itchiness you are experiencing becomes severe or the skin begins to peel or crack significantly, you may have a skin disorder in addition to the typical dryness that occurs during colder months. One example is eczema, a skin condition which involves the skin becoming very dry and inflamed. If you are experiencing severe symptoms like these, a doctor's visit should be scheduled. If your skin's condition seems to be related to a skin disorder, you may be referred to a dermatologist.
Another issue which may warrant a trip to the doctor is if your dry, itchy skin is being caused by an underlying health condition such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or malnutrition. Similarly, menopause, allergies or taking certain medications could cause the itchiness in your skin. If this is the case, using over-the-counter products may not be sufficient to cure your itchy skin. See a doctor to find ways to treat the underlying condition and your itchy skin may clear up.