There are many things about winter that make summer a more pleasant memory. For many, one such factor is the increase in dry, itchy skin that winter often brings. Solving this problem, however, can be as simple as avoiding some pieces of "general knowledge" that have been misconstrued throughout the years. Read on to discover four common myths about itchy skin in winter.
MYTH: Bad Weather Is the Only Culprit
Irritated skin in winter is easy to blame on harsh winds and frigid temperatures, and for many, bad weather could be the root. Seasonal skin problems are not uncommon, so the first signs of dermal distress are often attributed to climate.
FACT: Other Factors Play a Part
Though winter presents a generally drier environment, itchy skin in winter may be the result of underlying conditions that can strike at any time of year. For women going through menopause, hormonal imbalance is the leading cause of itchy or irritated skin. Spending lots of time inside, which is common during winter months, can also decrease circulation, sometimes resulting in skin disorders.
MYTH: Sunny Skies Will Help
Sun means warmth, and a clear blue sky can feel like a dose of summer after several days of cloudy gray. You might feel like taking advantage of sun exposure whenever you can is be a step toward soothing itchy skin. It's true, after all, that vitamin D is considered important for healthy skin, as the body produces it under the sun's rays.
FACT: Skin Care Is Necessary Year-Round
Natural sunlight can do wonders for boosting mood, but it is incorrect to think that extra exposure is healthy simply because of the season. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are just as harmful to the skin in winter as they are during summertime, and lack of skin protection can worsen itchy skin symptoms. Sunscreen is recommended year-round as a daily precaution, and especially for any extended time spent outdoors.
MYTH: Covered-up Skin Is More Protected
Wind, sun, precipitation, and cold all threaten healthy skin, so shielding your skin against the climate is important, especially in winter. It's assumed, however, that if skin is covered up, it is protected.
FACT: Fabric Matters
Clothing certainly protects the skin from environmental factors, but it also puts it in constant contact with materials. The quality of the material should therefore be examined to make sure its not to blame. Wool and other thick, heavy fabrics are usual suspects when it comes to itchy skin in winter, but other materials such as nylon and polyester make it hard for skin to breathe, resulting in excess sweat and surface irritation.
MYTH: Moisturizer Is a Cure-All
Another common cause of itchy skin in winter is dehydration, sometimes alleviated by moisturizing products like lotions and oils. It's commonly thought that itchy skin requires a thick moisturizer, applied liberally for deep healing action.
FACT: Use Lotions with Caution
No matter what the time of year, light moisturizers are preferable for various reasons. Thick moisturizers can sit on the skin without being properly absorbed, which can clog pores and cause acne. For many menopausal women, thicker lotions can result in excess sweating and a number of other uncomfortable symptoms.
With so much information out there on itchy winter skin, it's easy to rely on common knowledge to find solutions. Knowing the difference between popular belief and fact, however, is essential for achieving positive treatment results. Take note of the distinctions listed above to successfully alleviate itchy skin this winter.
For further information about how to deal with itchy skin and other menopause symptoms, follow this link.
- Andersen, P.A. , Buller, D.B. , Walkosz, B.J. , Scott, M.D. , Maloy, J.A. , Cutter, G.R. & Dignan, M.D. (2010). Environmental cues to UV radiation and personal sun protection in outdoor winter recreation. Archives of dermatology, 146(11), 1241-1247. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2010.327
- Smokefree.gov. (n.d.). 8 Ways Smoking Affects Your Health. Retrieved January 20, 2016, from http://smokefree.gov/health-effects