Winter time can be particularly challenging for those who develop dry, itchy skin. Although there are many reasons for this, the cause is often initially due to excessive dryness of the skin. When the skin becomes abnormally dry, itching ensues and often results with inflammation. This typically affects the lower legs, but may also include the arms and back. While more like to occur as our skin ages, this condition can also develop in children and young adults.
The corner stone of treatment is to simply repair the skin barrier using creams to rehydrate the skin; all while avoiding further drying of the skin with harsh soaps, for example. Scratching of the affected skin can incite inflammation and propagate the itching. Using a moisturizing cream to repair the skin barrier can help reduce skin dryness and itching. The most important time to apply moisturizing creams is immediately after bathing or showering. If inflammation of the skin is present, a mild to moderate potency steroid cream may be prescribed to break the itch-scratch cycle.
For those patients with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, the same basic principle of skin hydration and avoidance of irritating skin products is essential to reduce any exacerbations of winter itch.