Wintertime with its cold, dry weather brings a problem that many of us experience… dry, itchy skin. Scratching temporarily relieves the itch, but ultimately makes the problem worse, thanks to the release of histamine. Taking a cool bath or shower also brings prompt relief, until the moisture evaporates off the skin, drying it further. What is a rational plan for this common problem?
- Reduce the frequency of showering or bathing. By doing so, there is less frequent evaporation of water from your skin, allowing your skin’s natural oils to better act as a moisturizing barrier.
- Don’t shower or bathe with hot or very warm water. By doing so, you increase histamine release, which increases itching.
- Apply a thick glycerin lotion such as Eucerin once or twice a day, and especially after bathing when the skin is still damp. This seals in the moisture, rehydrating the skin.
- Take antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Benadryl to decrease itching. Other medications are available by prescription if something stronger is needed. And don’t forget topical preparations for small, symptomatic areas, including hydrocortisone cream and Calamine lotion.