Baylor College of Medicine

skin of color clinic

Skincare tips to weather the winter months

Aaron Nieto


Houston, TX -

Dry, cold conditions can be especially hard on skin and can lead to unsightly and sometimes painful rashes. A dermatologist at Baylor College of Medicine offers tips on how to keep your skin healthy and glowing. 

“During the winter, our skin typically dries out because the air tends to be less humid, and we also use the heater indoors, which leads to even more dryness,” said Dr. Oyetewa Oyerinde, assistant professor of dermatology and director of Baylor’s Skin of Color Clinic. “Dry skin is more likely to develop many types of rashes.” 

During winter, the typical skincare routine of daily cleansing, moisturizing and SPF should still be followed; however, a few modifications need to be made. If you typically use lotion, consider switching to thicker cream-like moisturizers. If you regularly use cream-like moisturizers, you may need to switch to even thicker ointment-type moisturizers. Sunscreen should still be worn, even though the sun’s rays are not as direct as they are during the summer, especially if you participate in snow sports, like snowboarding and skiing. 

If not cared for, skin will dry out or develop a winter rash, which is an advanced stage of dry, irritated skin that can be red, bumpy and flaky and can cause a burning sensation. Thinner skin, such as your lips, eyelids or under the eyes, is vulnerable not only to cold weather but also to agitation due to rubbing caused by allergies, colds or the flu. 

Fortunately, rehabilitating irritated skin can be an easy process. Oyerinde suggests using petroleum jelly on damaged skin to allow it to repair itself. Petroleum jelly creates a thick moisture seal and is effective in preventing wind and cold weather from drying out the skin even further. For dry, cracked lips, petroleum jelly and lip balms containing hydrocortisone may be helpful for short-term use. 

Some people with chronic skin conditions may experience harsher symptoms during colder months. Oyerinde says dry weather can aggravate eczema, psoriasis and other rashes. Patients also tend to experience allergy flare-ups, which can sometimes lead to hives or other rashes on the skin. Children are more likely to have eczema flare-ups during winter, and older adults can experience irritated skin more often, as they have dryer skin at a baseline. People with darker skin tones are more likely to develop dark spots on the skin after rashes go away, but this can be prevented by wearing sunscreen. 

For those looking to undergo certain skin procedures, winter may be the perfect time to schedule them. 

“Laser procedures, such as laser hair removal, are often best done in the winter. For most laser procedures, the skin must be completely free of a tan, and people tend to spend less time outside due to the cold weather,” said Oyerinde. “Other procedures, such as botulinum toxin or fillers, are often commonly performed during winter so that the changes are seen by summer, which is when patients really want all their cosmetic treatments to shine.” 

If you know the cold will be harsh on your skin, Oyerinde says to speak to your dermatologist to create a plan that will ensure your skin is healthy. “I always say it's important to see a board-certified dermatologist whenever you're concerned. Don't wait long to try to figure things out on your own,” Oyerinde said.

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