A hot, steamy shower or bath during the wintertime is just what we want to keep warm. Although they feel good at the moment, a dermatologist at Baylor College of Medicine says a hot bath or shower can lead to excessively dry skin.
“Dry skin is the most common cause of itchy, irritated skin so it is important to avoid overly hot baths and showers,” said Dr. Harry Dao, assistant professor of dermatology at Baylor. “I recommend taking lukewarm baths and showers.”
Lukewarm water is typically 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but Dao said it is up to individual preferences or tolerance. Many people consider lukewarm to be room temperature.
Showering in hot water during the wintery months not only dries out the skin, but also can damage the surface of the skin. Extreme dry skin can develop into more serious conditions like skin inflammation and may even increase eczema.
Signs of skin inflammation and eczema irritation are:
- Scaling of the skin
When the skin is red and inflamed, thinner emollients such as gels, lotions or creams can cause a stinging sensation as well, he said.
“The most important thing after a shower or bath is to pat – not rub aggressively – the skin dry, then to apply a preferably bland emollient, avoiding fragrances and other common contact allergens, onto the skin to try to lock the moisture from the bath or shower into the skin,” Dao said.
In addition to moisturizer, he suggests using mild soaps and shampoos. “Following these steps can help protect against dry skin, skin inflammation and, even more severe, eczema flares.”