Four Common Cold Weather & Winter Skin Problems

Your summer tan has faded…The moisture in the air is decreasing…Cold weather has arrived….and it’s once again time to be on the watch for winter skin problems.

As you gear up for the holidays, there’s precious little time to consider how to prepare for the kinds of winter skin challenges and problems you may be facing (literally) before long.  Now’s the time, with the air getting increasingly drier and cooler, to take a closer look at four leading skincare issues you may be facing in the months ahead.

1. Brown Spots, Age spots & Freckles (fancy medical terms = solar lentigos, melasma) become more noticeable once that gorgeous summer glow wears off. Winter’s a great time to treat brown spots with prescription creams and/or laser treatments.  However, if you don’t protect your skin from the sun daily (SPF 30+, floppy hat, etc.), this can be a long, expensive battle.  There’s plenty of technology to get rid of the sunspots, but you must work at keeping them gone. IPL- Photo Facials are especially effective for treating facial tan/brown spots.  Tri-Luma is a safe, effective topical cream that’s been around forever. Talk to your dermatology provider and/or aesthetician to devise the best personalized treatment plan for you.

2. Itchy, dry skin (fancy medical term = xerosis) is extremely common once the air becomes drier and cooler. In fact, for most of us, “winter skin’ is pretty much synonymous with dryness. Eating a healthy diet as well as drinking plenty of fluids is very important. Try turning down the water temperature in the shower a bit. Use hot water to strip grease from pots and pans, not your skin. Apply a moisturizer daily. Not a high fragranced, girly, watery lotion, or oil… just a simple cream.  CeraVe, Cetaphil, and Vanicream are over-the-counter, commonly-recommended bland moisturizing creams.  Get into the routine of applying twice daily before your skin gets dry and itchy. If necessary, follow-up with your provider for further treatment options.

3. Scalp irritation, dandruff & skin flaking (fancy medical term = Seborrheic Dermatitis) can occur anytime, but typically flares up when winter skin issues start popping up from head to toe. Again, moisturizers can help with flaking around eyebrows and ears.  For the scalp, it’s beneficial to rotate shampoos. Try putting 3 different kinds in your shower: One over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo, the other 2 are your preference.  Rotate daily.  If your condition doesn’t improve, consult your provider to discuss prescription shampoo and topical options. Seborrheic dermatitis is annoying, high maintenance, and takes up extra shower space…but it can be treated.

4. Tiny, rough Bumps on upper arms, legs, elsewhere (fancy medical term = keratosis pilaris) tend to worsen during winter months, even with consistent use of moisturizer. Often a topical steroid can be added to your regimen to help calm down inflammation and itching. Not scratching the itch is of course easier said than done, but critically important. Secondary infections can occur if bacteria is introduced into an excessively scratched location.  We’ve heard of people wearing mittens indoors, but when it comes to coping with any aspect of winter skin, it’s all about figuring out what works specifically for you and your skin.

Hope these cold weather skin care tips help, and if they don’t, good idea to get to your dermatologist ASAP. To find a Water’s Edge Dermatology location near you, click here, and to request an appointment, click here.