Why is my skin so itchy in the winter?

When skin loses its hydration, the nerves feeding the skin get irritated and produce the sensation of itch.  Most of my patients think it’s the cold weather outdoors that dries out their skin, but the real threat is the dry heat coming out of the radiator in their bedroom as they sleep.  What can you do to prevent your skin from becoming parched this winter?  First, invest in a cool-mist humidifier.  Warm-mist humidifiers are more costly and also pose a burn risk to children and pets.  Just be sure to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold by cleaning it or replacing the filter regularly.  Second, within 5 minutes of stepping out of your shower, coat your skin in a moisturizer.  A moisturizer like Cerave cream is great for the body, but you might want to ask your dermatologist to recommend a super hydrating moisturizer designed specifically for the skin on the face.  It’s important not to wait too long after stepping out of the shower to apply the moisturizer, because all the moisture from the shower will evaporate and leave your skin even more dry and itchy if you don’t seal that moisture in quickly.  Last, keep hydrated.  Although a hot cup of coffee beckons, ask for a half-caff every now and then to minimize the diuretic effect of the caffeine.

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