How to combat itchy skin
With cold weather finally here, you may be experiencing itchy skin. This is normal — as humidity in the air drops, the oil that lubricates our skin is decreased causing dry, itchy skin. For mild cases, moisturizing with lotion after showering can help.
“Living in Central Florida, we don’t get the extreme cold, and drying effects of central heat on our skin,” Dr. David Weinstein, dermatologist at UCF Health said. “If you are experiencing itchy skin there could be a skin condition at hand, especially if the skin is red or flaky. Most conditions can be treated easily with topical creams or changes in hygiene products.”
You may not be aware that the following can contribute to your dry skin:
- Harsh soaps – There is no strong benefit to using antibacterial soap over regular hand soap to wash your hands. Plus the milder stuff is more skin friendly.
- Dish washing – People often forget this type of soap on their hands, and it can be super drying since these soaps are formulated to whisk away oil. Use gloves to protect your hands while doing the dishes.
- Long, hot showers – Cut your showers short and use warm water, not hot water. Long baths or showers increase the loss of natural oils, which increases dry skin. Apply moisturizer right after showering to lock-in moisture.
- Dehydration – make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and be cognizant of times when your body may need more water, like after sweating or drinking alcohol.
- Rough fabrics – That wool sweater may be keeping you warm, but it also may be causing your skin to react.
- Scratching – It’s a hard cycle to break, but itching actually increases inflammation and worsens your condition.
While dry skin is irritating, it usually doesn’t represent a serious problem, but sometimes it can be difficult to treat. If your itchy skin is persistent you should seek help from a dermatologist. It could be related to a skin condition or associated to an underlying disease, such as diabetes or thyroid condition.
Dr. Weinstein’s skin care product recommendations for dry skin (no financial interest in these products):
Try soaps like Dove (unscented), or Cetaphil and CeraVe which contain ceramides which can help people with sensitive skin.
For moisturizers, try CeraVe, Cetaphil, Eucerin, Aveeno and Vanicream.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.