Ask the Dermatologist: Dealing with Dry, Winter Skin

When you become a parent — frankly, when you become pregnant — skincare becomes a top priority. From baby rashes to teenage acne, sun protection to winter skin care, a family’s skin issues are always changing! This year, we’re pleased to partner with Dr. Kara Shah of Kenwood Dermatology for a monthly “Ask the Dermatologist” feature. We asked our team to share their family’s unique skincare questions; and each month, Dr. Shah will be answering one of them.

With a classic “Cincinnati winter” happening this year, we thought it only appropriate to start with a question about winter skin care. Specifically:

How do I take care of my family’s skin during the winter in Cincinnati?

Winter can be tough on our skin! Cold, wind and dry air all contribute to dry skin and other skin problems. The best skin care strategy to deal with winter is to develop a good skin care regimen.

Long, hot baths or showers can worsen dry skin; showering/bathing should be limited to 5-10 minutes with warm (not hot) water. Use a moisturizing, gentle skin cleanser; products we like include Cerave Hydrating Cleanser and Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar.  A moisturizer should be applied after bathing when skin is still damp; use a moisturizing cream or ointment as opposed to a lotion for maximum benefit. For sensitive skin and eczema-prone skin, we like Vanicream Cerave Moisturizing Cream. You may need to apply a moisturizer several times during the day as well when needed. Use moisturizer even on days when your skin doesn’t look or feel dry. Your skin will love you for it!

Your hands are particularly susceptible to irritation and dryness; hand moisturizers that we like include Neutrogena Hand Cream and Cutemol Emollient Cream. You may wish to apply a thick layer at bedtime and cover with a pair of cotton gloves, which are available at local supermarkets and drugstores. Your face is also prone to dry skin and the winter. Use a facial moisturizer and lip balm to minimize irritation from wind and cold, and stay hydrated.

Dry skin can predispose to eczema and dermatitis, resulting in areas of skin that are red and painful or itchy. Use of a topical corticosteroid such as hydrocortisone, which is available over-the-counter, or a prescription corticosteroid is helpful in these cases. Remember to continue to use a moisturizer and to use the medication as prescribed. Medication should always be applied first, followed by a moisturizer (if needed) about 30 minutes later.

Finally, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen in winter! Ultraviolet exposure occurs even in winter and on cloudy days, and can be magnified by reflection from the snow. Use a facial moisturizer with sunscreen, and if you will be spending a longer amount of time outside, wear a facial sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. We like Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with sunscreen.

Ask the DermatologistDr. Shah was previously the Director of Pediatric Dermatology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and prior to relocating to Cincinnati, she was the Clinical Director of Pediatric Dermatology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Motivated to provide more personalized and specialized dermatology services, she started Kenwood Dermatology in 2016, where she focuses on providing expert skin care to children, adolescents and young adults. While she enjoys caring for patients with a variety of skin concerns, her special interests include hemangioma and other birthmarks, melanocytic nevi (moles) and melanoma, psoriasis, acne, atopic dermatitis/eczema, hair and nail disorders, and genetic skin diseases.

Among her many achievements, she was recognized by Cincinnati Magazine as a Top Doctor in 2016.

Dr. Shah serves on the medical advisory boards for the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types and the National Psoriasis Foundation. She is also on the Scientific Advisory Council for Naevus Global and is a Councilor for the International Society for Pediatric Wound Care. Dr. Shah is board-certified in General Pediatrics, General Dermatology, and Pediatric Dermatology.

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