Tips for Alleviating Dry Winter Skin

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The dry winter days are here. There are beautiful snowflakes. And with them come lots of skin flakes as well. Your skin is dry, scaly and may even show signs of cracking. 

Moisturizers come as creams, lotions and ointments. Petroleum based ointments tend to be more occlusive, limiting the evaporation of water from the skin. During the cold winter months, oil based moisturizers may be more effective. For very dry skin and for problem areas such as the elbows and knees, moisturizers containing urea and/or lactic acid may be beneficial as these ingredients draw moisturize into the skin. One caution when using these types of moisturizers: they may cause the skin to sting or burn when applied to irritated, cracked, or inflamed skin.

Try these steps to alleviate dry winter skin:

  1. Moisturize more frequently (3 – 5 applications/day) to help keep the skin hydrated. Always apply moisturizer after a shower or bath.
  2. Take brief, 5 to 10 minute, showers with lukewarm water. Long showers and hot showers may strip the skin of its natural lipids and proteins that help maintain adequate hydration.
  3. Use a mild soap free cleanser to minimize the loss of the skin’s own moisturizing proteins and lipids.
  4. Apply petroleum or wax based lip balm to help keep the lips smooth and prevent chapping.
  5. Apply moisturizers to your hands regularly.
  6. Cover up when exposed to dry cold winter air. Wear hats, gloves and scarves to help prevent dry skin and chapped lips.
  7. To increase moisturize levels in the home, consider using a humidifier. Humidity levels between 30% – 50% may prevent the skin from drying out.
  8. If dry skin is severe or if it persists, see a dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical cause of dry skin like eczema, psoriasis or other inflammatory process. Prescription products may be necessary.

You can select effective soap-free cleansers, moisturizers, hand creams and lip balms with Dr. Frey’s Product Selector tool.


  • Fayne Frey

    Dr. Fayne Frey is a board-certified dermatologist and author. Her recent book, “The Skin Care Hoax, How You’re Being Tricked into Buying Lotions, Potions & Wrinkle Cream,” debunks everything we thought we knew about skincare products, called. She also has a fabulous website,, where she helps education consumers on how to choose the safest and most affordable skin care products.

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