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            The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan
 

The Winter Itch

 
<p>​<span style="text-align: center;">Winter and dry skin seem to go hand in hand. Though dry skin is itself not serious, in its more serious form, it can make you feel itchy with red and scaly skin, cause small cracks, and even bleeds, in the skin.</span>
</p><p><strong>What Causes Dry Skin?</strong></p><p>Dry skin is especially common in the winter months. Some causes are:</p><ul><li>Cold and windy weather. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly. This makes skin look and feels dry and chapped.</li><li>During the winters, sitting in front of fire or heaters may sound like one of life&#39;s pleasures, but not only can it make your skin dry, but also your mucous membranes, leading to dry, chapped lips, nosebleeds, and dry throat.</li><li>A long hot bath or shower may feel like the only way to warm up yourself in the winters. But hot water can strip your skin of its protective oils causing your skin to look scaly, flaky or very dry.</li><li>Your soaps or liquid hand washes with strong chemicals might make your skin dryer in the winters than they would in the summer.</li><li>Dehydration is another cause. Even as you feel less thirsty in the winter, your skin continues to lose moisture all the time.</li><li>Reduced consumption of lipids (fats). Fats form a protective layer to keep your skin soft, plump, and flexible. If you don&#39;t have enough fats in your diet, your body won&#39;t have enough building blocks to maintain this protective layer.</li><li>Frequent lip licking and using a matte or long-wearing lipsticks can also leave your lips dry, chapped, and cracked.</li></ul><p><strong>How to avoid dry skin?</strong></p><ul><li>Protect your skin from the cold and wind by wearing protective clothing, gloves, and scarves.</li><li>Apply moisturizing lotions every time you wash your hands or take a shower. Pay special attention to your hands, feet, elbows, and knees.</li><li>Avoid setting your heater too high; try the lowest setting that you find comfortable.</li><li>Use a humidifier to keep your skin hydrated.</li><li>Take a shower in warm, not hot water, and limit your showers to 10 minutes.</li><li>Avoid caffeinated drinks.</li><li>Increase your water intake even if not thirsty.</li><li>Eat food containing good fats and Omega 3. Good fats are found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, eggs, fatty fish and even dark chocolate.</li><li>If you wear lip colour, switch to a gloss or creamy lipstick.</li><li>Cut back on exfoliating scrubs, face masks, and steam treatments.</li></ul><p><strong>When does dry skin need a visit to the doctor?</strong></p><p>Dry skin can usually be managed at home. However, see a <a href="/pakistan/Pages/Request-an-Appointment.aspx">dermatologist​</a> if the following persist for more than a few days and do not seem to respond to your normal dry skin-care routine:</p><ul><li>Redness, in lighter skin tones</li><li>Rough patches</li><li>Flaking</li><li>Cracks
</li><li>Itching</li><li>Stinging
</li></ul>