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How to Deal with Skin Dryness and Rashes in Winter

Winter is coming! It’s that time of the year for hot chocolates, ugly sweaters, and clearing slippery ice and snow from your front yard. But for most people, it’s the season of uncomfortable dry skin and itchy rash. 

Skin dryness and winter rashes is a prevalent condition in this season. While non-lethal, it can make anyone feel like the Grinch in the festive winter holidays. And, of course, it can disrupt anyone’s skincare routine. 

So, before the frostbite comes, we’ll teach you the tips and tricks in dealing with skin dryness and rashes in the winter. These tips will make you say goodbye to these winter skin problems for good!

What is Skin Dryness? 

Skin dryness is the “lack of an appropriate amount of water in the epidermis.” The causes of dry skin are categorized into two kinds: external and internal.

The winter season falls under the category of external causes of dry skin. Cold temperatures and low humidity can cause your skin to lose its natural oils and dry up. Using harsh soaps and taking long baths can make your skin even worse for wear! 

How can you know if you have dry skin? 

Your skin is need of a hydration treatment if you’re experiencing these tell-tale signs of skin dryness: 

  • Itching
  • Rough, red bumps on the skin (caused by itching)
  • Rough skin
  • Nummular eczema

Itching is one of the skin dryness symptoms to look out for. One scratch of that pressing itch can lead to the “itch-scratch” cycle. The first scratch worsens the itch, leading to the second scratch, the third scratch, and so on.

If you need to look out for skin dryness symptoms, you’ll need to pay close attention to:

  • arms, 
  • hands
  • feet

The skin on these parts of the body tends to be more exposed to cold and humid temperatures. Thankfully, dry skin does not spread onto the body. But if your skin has lost its moisture, then expect flaky white skin throughout your body.

What Are Winter Rashes? 

Meanwhile, winter rashes are irritated parts of your skin. This frustrating skin condition is common during winter times, having been experienced mostly by people in snowy countries. But despite its commonality, it’s not something that people in the northern areas look forward to having. 

Look out for some of these symptoms: 

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Flaking
  • Blisters

As the name suggests, winter rashes are caused by the cold and dry temperatures of winter. But, there are other possible causes for winter rashes. People with a history of eczema, dermatitis, allergies, and other skin conditions are more prone to winter rashes.

Illustration of dermatitis after touching an allergen

If you go out a lot during the winter, then you’re also more prone to developing skin rashes. 

Interestingly, sunburns can cause winter rashes. The Skin Cancer Foundation has found that snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, making it more potent. So, if you’re out in the open during winter without proper UV ray protection, you can get sunburn and winter rashes. 

Similar to dry skin, winter rashes are most likely to develop in the arms, legs, and feet. But, there’s a catch! 

Winter rashes can spread throughout your body! 


Better make sure to treat it right away!

Diagnosing Skin Dryness and Winter Rashes

Skin dryness and winter rashes can be diagnosed through a physical exam or skin biopsy. A doctor will scrutinize your condition along with your routine and medical history to determine the prognosis. Depending on the cause of your skin condition, the doctor will recommend treatment plans that you can try. 

Just remember: 

If you have skin dryness, you’ll most likely have winter rashes. 

But, if you have winter rashes despite moisturizing your skin every day, then they are caused by something else. Be on the lookout for other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. Recount any skin products or moisturizers which may have been the cause of your rashes. 

Treating Skin Dryness and Winter Rashes

The only way to fight against skin dryness and winter rashes are through moisture. Moisturizes and creams that promote hydration are the go-to treatments for this condition. However, natural oils and other natural remedies work as well. 

With so many treatments, it’s almost impossible to distinguish those that work and those that do not. So, listed below are the top treatments in keeping your skin hydrated despite the cold and dry weather: 

1) Moisturizers

There’s no better way to treat dry skin-related problems through moisturizers. This topic cream helps to keep the moisture in your skin and protect your skin from dry air. If you have winter rashes brought about by dry skin, you’ll need to apply moisturizer many times throughout the day. Spread moisturizer on your skin after hand washing and bathing. 

The trick to finding the best moisturizer is to find lotions that don’t have any perfumes. That type of lotion is usually good for dry skin. Moisturizers containing lactic acid or urea are effective as well. 

But, if you don’t want to use any of these lotions, thick and greasy emollient creams will do. 

2) Mild Soaps and Cleansers

While not exactly known to replenish moisture, mild soaps and cleansers are notorious for preventing dry skin. Furthermore, mild soaps and cleansers are always readily available and relatively cost-friendlier than other treatments in this list. So long as you incorporate the steady use of mild soaps and cleansers, you’ll be protected from dry skin and winter rashes.

Reminder: It is important to test mild soaps and cleansers first before incorporating to your long-term skincare routine. Not all skincare products are suitable for all skin types. It is always advisable to test out skincare products to look out for possible allergies and unwanted effects.

3) Topical Steroid Creams

Topical steroid creams, like corticosteroid, are said to reduce redness, itching, and inflammation of the skin. These creams are readily available in pharmaceuticals— over the counter or with a doctor’s prescription—which makes them convenient to use.

But take note: Mild corticosteroid creams should only be applied on the face, underarm, and groin areas.

Long-term application of this type of cream can cause skin thinning, stretch marks, and skin breakdown.

So, if you’re considering using this type of cream, use only in moderation and as instructed by the manufacturer. Better yet, ask the advice of your medical professional before using.

4) Natural Oils

Are you an oil fan? Well, this one is for you!

Using natural oils can alleviate dry skin and winter rashes. These oils have the effect of soothing irritated skin and replenishing moisture. An example of this is vegetable shortening, which has been a popular folk remedy for dry skin. According to some people, the solid oil content of vegetable shortening can replenish moisture onto the skin.

Botanical oils surrounded by loose thyme stems

Meanwhile, some oils, like coconut oil and olive oil, have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which are good for skincare lovers.

But most importantly, you can apply these oils as many times as you want!

While there are some oils that, when used excessively, become harmful, oils are relatively safer to be applied on the skin.

However, you’ll need to double-check the oils as some oils may not be compatible with your skin.

Nonetheless, oils are worth a try, especially when you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to expensive moisturizers.

5) Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is the classic dry skin treatment. Slathering just a little bit of this product is enough to seal every ounce of moisture on your skin. So, if you’re going out to the cold outdoors and don’t have any moisturizer, you can use petroleum jelly as a substitute. 

But what if you don’t like using petroleum products? 

Good news for you: There are petroleum substitutes that do the same thing as petroleum jelly does. Browse around your local drugstore or cosmetic store for these moisturizing substitutes.

6) Oatmeal Soaps and Milk Baths 

You would never have guessed that your oatmeal and milk breakfast could treat your dry skin and winter rashes. 

Oatmeal has the ability to soothe irritated skin. It even contains useful properties that revitalize your skin. If you choose to use oatmeal as your dry skin treatment, then experts recommend buying oatmeal soap for your needs. Unlike regular soaps, oatmeal soaps are mild and gentle to the skin. 

Meanwhile, milk baths are said to soothe itchy, dry skin. It is said that your skin’s itchiness can be alleviated by just one thorough dip in a milk bath. So, if you’re suffering from severe winter rashes, then a milk bath may be an option that you’d like to try!

Bonus: Anti-Itch Medications

If you have dry skin, there’s no doubt that you’re riddled with itching. Itchiness may be one of the undermined yet common symptoms of dry skin and winter rashes. Depending on the severity of your itching, your dry skin and/or winter rashes may worsen. To prevent this and alleviate yourself from the non-stop itch, here are some recommended anti-itch medications: 

  • Benadryl
  • Vistaril
  • Atarax
  • Zrytec

These medications are designed to alleviate the general itching of dry skin. It may also help you sleep more comfortably at night. However, these medications may not have a direct effect on the itching. 

Preventing Skin Dryness and Winter Rashes

Prevention will always be better than cure. So, before you suffer from the uncomfortable itching of dry skin and winter rashes, keep you and your skin protected! Here are helpful tips to keep dry skin and winter rashes at bay: 

  • Invest in a good humidifier. The trick to avoiding dry skin is avoiding cold and dry temperatures entirely. But since it’s the cold season, you might not have a choice. With humidifiers, your skin will enjoy the freshness of the moist air and thus prevent dryness. 
  • Bathe less often. As stated above, excessive use of soaps can dry your skin to a flaky mess. Considering this finding, it is better to bathe less often to avoid dry skin. Besides, it’s the winter time. It’s too cold to do anything else. 
  • Replace fragrant soaps. Does your soap smell like 97 types of flowers? Those kinds of soaps are absolutely horrible to dry skin! Instead, use mild and gentle soaps made from glycerin, goat milk, shea butter, or olive oil. 
  • Wear sunscreen. There’s no escape to the damaging UV rays, even in winter times. To avoid getting winter rashes from sunburns, make it a habit to wear sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher in it. That kind of sunscreen will protect your skin better than those with lower SPF levels. 
  • Wear gloves and breathable clothing. If you’re more prone to skin conditions, then you’re not exactly suitable for thick clothes like leather. To keep yourself cool and moisturized, wear breathable clothes like cotton and hemp. Meanwhile, gloves will protect your hands from dry temperatures and harsh chemicals. 

Smiling woman with beanie and knitted gloves

In a Nutshell

Your skin condition can make or break your winter holidays. While skin dryness and winter rashes are common during the season, it’s not something that you’d like to have. Skin dryness and winter rashes can spread throughout the body and cause irritating itches. You could even lose sleep just scratching those itches away! 

So, what do you do? 

You try to prevent it, of course! 

These skin conditions can be prevented by following simple tips. But if prevention doesn’t work, then there are several kinds of treatment that you could use to cure your ailments. However, if symptoms start to worsen, then please see a doctor urgently.

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