Cold temperatures means dry skin - Toronto Dermatology Centre
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Cold temperatures means dry skin

Our very own Dr. Benjamin Barankin was interviewed on TV for a story about winter weather and its effects on dry skin and eczema. How to prevent and treat dry skin and eczema was discussed by our expert.


As the temperature drops, many people begin to see the signs of winter damage to their skin. Frigid temperatures take their toll. Especially on our skin. There are a few changes you can make to your daily routine to limit the discomfort and improve your skin’s appearance. Taking care of our often dry, flakey exterior is time well spent. Not doing so can lead to bigger issues.

Toronto Dermatologist Dr. Benjamin Barankin says eczema is much more than an annoyance: “Eczema which is inflamed skin which is irritable. It can wake you up at night. It’s itchy, stems from dry skin. So dry skin often begets eczema. The reason to treat it is, number one, it looks better. Number 2, it feels better and you’ll sleep better. But number 3, we also want to prevent infection. So if you’re scratching a lot, you’re making cuts into the skin. You are at risk of infection.”

For some people eczema is genetic. But Daphna Nussbaum suspects her condition stems from frequent handwashing as a mom of 2 young kids: “At night especially they get quite itchy. So I try to moisturize or remind myself to moisturize whenever I can.”

There are other steps that can help to hydrate the skin. A humidifier in your home can restore moisture in the air lost from the use of a furnace.

Dr. Barankin: “We’d even advise people to have a humidifier in their bedrooms. Something like a cool mist humidifier in the bedroom to put moisture back in the air. And while you sleep it absorbs back into the skin.”

Most soaps dry the skin. Barankin recommends switching to a cleanser in the winter. Keep water temperature at a moderate level when you shower or bathe. And within minutes of towel drying, apply a good quality moisturizer.

Dr. Barankin: In the winter time, especially in the Canadian climate, you want to use a moisturizer. You want to use a thicker moisturizer. You might switch from a lotion to a cream.”

For severe cases of eczema, you may need a prescription cream to manage the condition. But Dr. Barankin says steer clear of home remedies like pure olive oil. Research has shown it’s not effective and actually impairs the barrier function of the skin.

Credit: CHCH News

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