ZocdocAnswersWill taking cooler showers prevent dry skin?

Question

Will taking cooler showers prevent dry skin?

Every winter I get really dry skin. Lotion helps but it won?t go away. My dad said to take shorter showers that aren?t as hot. Will this help? Does a hot shower make your skin dry?

Answer

It sounds like you are dealing with eczema, or atopic dermatitis. This is a condition in which the skin lacks certain essential proteins that allow it to hold on to water, predisposing you to excessively dry skin, especially in dry cold weather. Your father is partially right. It is true that hot water and frequent showering tend to strip away the skin's essential protective oils and leave it drier than before. One way to combat this is to take less frequent (and less hot) showers during the winter. Another strategy best applied in parallel is to pat dry right out of the shower and immediately apply a good moisturizing lotion head to toe. Soaking in the bath tub, interestingly enough, does not have the same drying effect as a shower - as long as you stay in long enough to get 'wrinkly' you may actually be doing your skin some good (the same rule about moisturizing after getting out still applies). In terms of which moisturizer to use, it is best to pick a thick one - with a Vaseline consistency - as this will give you the best skin protection. Please talk to your primary care doctor or your dermatologist to get a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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