Cold winter weather in Michigan means that your skin is at risk of becoming more sensitive and dry than usual. Dry skin can lead to flaking, rough patches, redness, itching, and pain. Why does dry skin become more common during the winter? The answer is simple and lies within something called the skin barrier.

The visible surface of the skin, the epidermis, functions to protect the body from injury and harmful toxins, including chemicals, UV radiation, and infection. The outermost layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum, also known as the “skin barrier,” and is made up of natural moisturizers (lipids, fatty acids, and ceramides). Our skin barrier not only protects against impurities, but also seals in moisture for healthy skin hydration.

Winter weather means colder temperatures and decreased humidity in the air. These changes create an environment where less moisture is available to the skin, which reduces the natural moisturizers and protective nature of the skin barrier. A weakened or compromised skin barrier leads to the dry, irritated, inflamed skin that is more frequent in the winter.

Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to prevent dry winter skin:

  • Take lukewarm showers, not too hot and not too cold. Extremely hot or cold water dehydrates the skin even more.
  • After showering pat dry, leaving the skin damp, and apply a thick moisturizing cream. This technique helps trap in moisture on the skin to repair the skin barrier.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated from the inside out!
  • Sleep with a cool mist humidifier at night to add extra moisture to the air, preventing dryness of the skin and mucous membranes.

If you are suffering from worsening dry skin or eczema despite these tips, you may need prescription strength medication to help heal the skin. Make an appointment with us at Beacon Skin & Surgeries to help get your skin barrier back on track to protect against the cold Michigan weather!

Chelsea Beer, PA-C