10 Tips to Fix Winter-Dry Skin and Hair

Cold wind combined with indoor heating systems at home and work will dry out your skin and hair. The result can be eczema-type rashes, flyaway hair, brittle nails, and chapped lips.

"The cold, dry air acts like a vacuum, suctioning moisture out of these areas," says Jessica J. Krant, M.D., M.P.H., Board Certified Dermatologist, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Founder of Art of Dermatology in NYC.

Dry Skin Dilemma

The worse dry skin gets, the more you'll be tempted to scratch the itch.

"With increased scratching, the skin can get raw and may even become infected," Dr. Krant says. This can lead to even more itching, creating a vicious cycle. If it gets to the point of raw skin, see your doctor and get a prescription treatment to help heal dry skin.

10 Tips to Prevent and Treat Dry Winter Skin

Dr. Krant offers ways you can help your skin make it through this winter:

  1. Starting in the fall, begin a routine of slathering extra thick moisturizing cream on your arms, legs, and face after you shower. This will help to create a moisturized defense barrier for colder weather.
  2. Take warm (not hot) showers and keep them brief.
  3. Try not to over wash your hands or use excessive amounts of soap, which can further dry your hands.
  4. Wear gloves to protect your hands when you do dishes.
  5. Cover up your skin when heading outside on cold days and nights. Wrap a scarf around your face. Wear gloves.
  6. If you come down with a cold or flu, use very soft tissues and be extra gentle on the delicate skin around your nose. Drink lots of fluid to stay hydrated.
  7. Run a humidifier to discourage dry air.
  8. Consistently use lip balm to keep your lips moisturized. This will also deter you from licking your lips, which makes them more chapped.
  9. Use leave-in conditioner on your hair to help lock in moisture. And go easy on washing and using heated appliances to avoid further hair damage.
  10. Remember that skin cancer is a concern even during the winter months. If you plan to be outside for an extended amount of time, apply a moisturizer with sunscreen to your face and exposed skin.

For more information about how to weather dry winter skin, you visit the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Dr. Krant reviewed this article.



American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). "Dry Skin: Tips For Relieving." N.d. 23 Oct. 2012.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, Founder, Art of Dermatology LLC, NYC, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, NYC. Email interview. 19 Oct. 2012.

TeenVogue.com. "Five Expert Tips on How to  Protect Your Hair This Winter." 21 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.