Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Cold and Your Skin

Posted on: January 4th, 2016 by California Skin Institute

Although winter can be a wonderful time of year, filled with holiday parties and time with friends and family, the cold weather can also exacerbate many skin concerns like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Further, the cold, dry air can even lead to general skin dryness, commonly referred to as winter itch. However, though there’s not much you can do about the weather, there are many things you can do to take better care of your skin this time of year and reduce the symptoms of most common winter skin problems.*

Winter Itch

You’ve probably noticed that cold weather often brings with it a change in how your skin feels. A common concern for many patients is that their skin is much drier and tends to itch. There is good reason for why this happens, and it all has to do with the amount of moisture in the air.

During winter/cold weather, the moisture in the air can decrease drastically. The low humidity combined with dry air from heaters can cause the skin to become very dry, very quickly. Patients may experience flaky or ashy skin, and feeling of skin tightness commonly associated with dryness.* However, the physical discomfort is only part of the problem, as skin dryness that isn’t properly addressed can lead to long term skin damage and early onset of wrinkles.

There are several steps that can be taken to combat this problem.* Firstly, it’s essential to use a good skin moisturizer often.* For example, many of California Skin Institute patients benefit from our Fortified Moisturizer, which contains ingredients like ceramides, to fortify the moisture barrier; glycerin, to hydrate the skin; and Vitamins A, C and E, to repair skin damage.*

Another excellent moisturizer from CSI is the Ultra Light Moisture Dew.* This non-comedogenic cream nourishes winter skin with ingredients like glycerin, squalane, and aloe vera gel.*

In addition to moisturizers, another helpful step is to set up a humidifier in your home and/or office.* The indoor heaters and HVAC systems produce dry, warm air which leaves your skin dry and itchy. A humidifier will increase the overall humidity of your home or office, and can go a long way in relieving winter itch.*

Atopic Dermatitis

Another common issue during winter includes flare-ups of atopic dermatitis. This condition is characterized by red, dry, and scaly patches of skin that are accompanied by itching.

There are several reasons for the flare-ups, including overly-dry air, long hot showers (which tend to deplete skin moisture), and a lack of regular moisturizing.

To reduce the appearance of atopic dermatitis, it’s important to moisturize regularly, especially after cleansing the face or taking a shower.* However, because this problem can manifest in severe symptoms, it’s important to speak to a dermatologist to find the best treatment solution in your situation that may involve prescription creams for more aggressive treatment.*

If you’re dealing with atopic dermatitis, please set up a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists by calling a California Skin Institute practice near you.*


Lack of humidity and sun exposure in the winter also tend to exacerbate symptoms of psoriasis. This condition is characterized by patches of red, scaly skin, which are brought about by skin cells that grow too quickly. The patches can show up anywhere on the body, including the scalp, elbows and knees.

The lack of exposure to UV rays is particularly problematic, as ultraviolet light can slow the growth of new skin cells.

When psoriasis symptoms become severe, California Skin Institute providers can address the problem with the XTRAC Excimer laser.* This specialty light technology reduces psoriasis symptoms with targeted delivery of UV light to the problem areas of the skin.* The XTRAC Excimer laser can be a very effective treatment option for some patients.* These treatments are typically very quick, there is no down time, and absolutely no discomfort.*

Taking the First Step

If you’re suffering from winter-induced skin conditions, relief is just a phone call away.* Simply contact a California Skin Institute practice near you for an appointment, or schedule your consultation online!

*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.