Best Tips to Prevent and Care for Dry Skin in Winter

Winter skin is often dry and cracked due to lack of moisture. Photo: Verywellhealth.
Winter skin is often dry and cracked due to lack of moisture. Photo: Verywellhealth.

The change in humidity, cold, dry air, especially the habit of washing hands to prevent Covid-19 more, can cause skin to become itchy, dry and cracked in winter.

Normally, the top layer of the skin, or the epidermis, needs to be at least 10% water to keep it smooth and soft. If less, the skin cannot remove the outer cells correctly. The accumulation of cells causes cracks and scabs to form, leaving the skin dry, scaly, and sometimes itchy.

Dry skin can affect many people during the winter, and the severity of symptoms can vary. There are many reasons why your skin is prone to dryness and cracking in the winter.

Symptom of Dry Winter Skin

According to Medical News Today, dry skin is usually temporary - some people only get it in the winter - but it can also last a lifetime. Symptoms of dry skin vary in severity depending on age, health, where you live, and time spent outdoors.

Dry skin caused by damage to the skin barrier during winter can lead to flaking, scaling, cracking, redness, itching, roughness, sensitivity to the touch, darkening of the skin.

People can experience some of these symptoms at the same time. Proper treatment will reduce their severity. Anyone can develop dry skin. But some people are more at risk for this condition, including:

People over 40: The risk increases with age, more than 50% of older adults have dry skin.

Live in dry, cold or humid climates.

- Working in an environment with a lot of water exposure.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School (USA) say that dry skin is not usually a serious health problem, but it can cause complications such as chronic eczema, bleeding in the cracks. A more serious complication that can occur is a secondary bacterial infection (redness, swelling, and pus), which may require antibiotics. At this point, you should consult your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or your condition does not improve.

Cause of Dry Winter Skin

Winter brings with it changes in humidity and temperature creating the perfect conditions to cause dry skin. The outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis. The thin outer surface of the epidermis is the stratum corneum, also known as the skin barrier.

The combination of lipids and dead or dead skin cells forms the skin barrier. The skin barrier forms a protective layer that prevents harmful toxins from entering the body. When the skin barrier is damaged, the skin becomes dry or irritated.

According to Reader's Digest, cold air in winter has less moisture than in summer, and also has less lipids in the skin barrier. These differences contribute to dryness and irritation of the skin.

In winter, many families have the habit of turning on the heating system in the house to keep warm. However, this inadvertently reduces the humidity in the air. They also strip the skin of its natural moisturizing oils, leaving it prone to dryness.

Besides, bathing with too hot water is also a habit in winter that can be harmful to the skin. It can damage the surface of the skin, leading to dry skin. In addition, using soap with strong detergent properties also contributes to skin damage.

How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

Thói quen tắm nước nóng vào mùa đông có thể gây tổn thương làn da. Ảnh: Businessweekly.
Thói quen tắm nước nóng vào mùa đông có thể gây tổn thương làn da. Ảnh: Businessweekly.

To keep your skin from drying out, use moderately warm water instead of hot water, you can add a few drops of lavender or almond oil to the water to help soothe the skin. You should also not shower for too long, only 10 minutes maximum.

In the cold winter, everyone wants to drink a cup of coffee, hot chocolate to warm the body. However, coffee and chocolate contain caffeine, which can dry out the skin from the inside. Alcohol can also damage the skin because it is a diuretic, causing dehydration. It is important that you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

For every cup of coffee or glass of wine you drink, you should drink it with at least one glass of water. Better yet, you can replace these drinks with a cup of chamomile or another herbal, caffeine-free tea.

Wool clothing can be very warm, but it can also cause irritation and make your skin itchy. Instead, you should choose clothes made of soft fabrics like cotton or silk. If you want to wear a warm sweater, you should wear a shirt underneath to avoid rubbing the wool against your skin. If you have sensitive skin, use mild, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergents, and avoid fabric softeners when washing clothes and bedding.

According to Time magazine, while the Covid-19 pandemic is raging, washing hands for at least 20 seconds is essential. Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can also be used to get rid of germs on the hands. However, according to dermatologists, frequent hand washing can lead to and worsen dry skin problems.

Mary Stevenson, associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health (USA), says she washes her hands about 75 times a day. "You have to do it in 20 seconds. And the more you wash, the more you can have problems, especially in winter, with dry and chapped skin," says Dr. Mary.

Normally, the outermost layer of the skin is the acid mantle, which consists of a thin layer of naturally produced sebum. Beneficial bacteria thrive here and act as a line of defense against harmful bacteria. But when the acid mantle is damaged, by rubbing too hard or using hand sanitizer, the skin is more susceptible to dryness and irritation.

For severely dry skin, your doctor may prescribe a cream containing lactic acid, urea, or corticosteroids. You may also be ordered to test to rule out medical conditions that can cause dry skin, including hypothyroidism, diabetes, lymphoma, kidney disease, liver disease, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.