That Winter Itch

Dr. murad 1

Dr. Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD

Skin Care /


When we think about winter weather, images of precipitation like snow, ice, hail and freezing rain come to mind. Yet amid all that winter water, most of us will struggle to keep our skin from feeling dry, tight and itchy. We may even notice that fine lines and wrinkles become more pronounced during winter, and our skin may even seem less firm and plump. Why? Because colder air holds less moisture and tends to pull moisture out of our skin just like air-conditioning pulls moisture out of the air of our cars. 

To develop a strategy to fight the drying effects of winter weather, and help keep your skin feel comfortable and well hydrated all winter long, it helps to understand just how moisturizers work to support your skin’s natural barrier function

To be truly effective, topical hydration formulas contain two essential classes of ingredients: hydrophilic agents and hydrophobic agents. Hydrophilic agents, like Hyaluronic Acid, draw moisture to themselves. These agents help to restore skin’s youthful plumpness, firmness and resilience. Hydrophobic agents, like nut or seed oils, create a waterproof seal that preserves water within the skin’s surface. Both the balance between these two types of agents, as well as the actual agents that are selected, will be key to determining the power and the texture of any given moisturizing formula.

Unlike summer skin concerns, which tend to be limited to skin that is exposed to the elements, winter itch is an all-over concern. Here are a few tips for taming the itch—without scratching.

  • To begin – resist the urge to scratch. Once you begin down that road, you will start a cycle of damage and inflammation that will make a bad situation worse.
  • The best way to boost hydration, and comfort, is to apply a good quality moisturizer, formulated with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic agents, every day from head to toe on your wet skin as soon as you get out of your morning shower. This is the maximum hydration point of the day, and you need to lock in that water! After you pat your skin dry, apply a second coat to problem areas like your legs.
  • Once a month, give your legs, or other problem areas, a “facial.” Gently and evenly scrub away dead skin with an exfoliating cleanser to open hydrating channels and prepare the skin for treatment. Apply a soothing, reparative treatment serum and finish with an extra-rich moisturizer.


A little extra attention is really all you need to keep your skin healthy and comfortable all winter long.

Categories: Beauty, Beauty Tips , Skin Care
About The Author
Dr. murad 1

Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Click here for more articles by Dr. Murad.

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