When Does Dry Skin Warrant a Visit to the Dermatologist?

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, people in Minnesota must start preparing for all that winter brings. Reviewing and updating your daily skin care routine should be part of this seasonal transition. Many people experience some discomfort from dry, itchy skin during the winter, but this nuisance is sometimes more than just an indicator of cold temperatures and lower humidity levels. In some cases, it can be a symptom of a separate, more serious skin condition.

With this in mind, you should know which symptoms tip the scales in favor of scheduling an appointment with one our dermatology clinics in Minneapolis, Edina, or Plymouth. Winter is never a bad time to check in with your dermatologist, but there are a few signs you should definitively keep an eye on.

 

Cracked Skin

When dry skin cracks, germs can enter the body through the weakened epidermis and cause infections. You do not need to see a doctor immediately if this happens, but you will need to keep the crack clean and well maintained. Stop by your local pharmacy to pick up an antibacterial ointment, and wear bandages until the skin heals. Importantly, keep an eye out for sore red spots on the skin. This is an early sign of an infection and will warrant a visit to the doctor.

 

It Hurts More than Last Year

If the dryness is especially severe or uncomfortable, comes on suddenly, or does not go away, you may have a separate medical condition, like eczema. Pay attention to how certain parts of your body feel as compared to last year. Are your hands in worse shape? Is there an itchy spot on your back you’ve never noticed? A dermatologist can help determine if a different condition, like what is mental health, is causing the unsightly rash or discomfort.

 

Chronic Dryness

Chronic, extreme dry skin can indicate eczema. While the exact cause of eczema is still unknown, it is triggered year-round by several factors, which can include household cleaners, cosmetic products, and fabrics. If you have chronically dry skin, but it feels especially uncomfortable in the winter, a dermatologist visit could help mitigate symptoms.

 

How to Prevent Dry Skin During Minnesota’s Winters

The best defense against a trip to the doctor is to prevent dry skin from becoming a problem. The American Skin Association and American Academy of Dermatology have a few suggestions for avoiding or mitigating the discomfort that usually accompanies dry skin.

  • Choose skin products without alcohol
  • Choose short showers over baths
  • Use warm, not very hot, water when showering
  • Invest in a humidifier for your home
  • Apply a moisturizer several times each day, but especially after bathing
  • Wear gloves, hats, and scarves as much as possible
  • Change razor blades more frequently than usual
  • Wear natural fibers, like cotton, as much as possible

In most cases, dry skin responds well to lifestyle changes, meaning you can likely address your irritation at home with the use of over-the-counter products. However, dermatologists are trained to know the difference between dry skin caused by weather and dryness caused by other conditions. A doctor can suggest diagnostic tests and provide important insight to determine the cause of your dry skin. If your dry skin is especially irritating this year, even for Minnesota standards, it might be time to Contact us to schedule a visit.