Winter weather can be harsh on your skin. If you find that you have developed a red, flaky, or itchy rash during the colder months, it could be nothing more than so-called “winter rash”. While generally just uncomfortable, you may be wondering, “is there is any point at which I should take this rash more seriously?” And, what can you do to prevent and treat it?
What is Winter Rash?
Winter rash occurs when exposure to cold, dry air causes skin to become dehydrated, resulting in irritated skin.
A combination of factors such as low humidity, cold temperatures, harsh winds, hot showers, and indoor heating is often the culprit for this seasonal condition.
Winter rash can also be caused or exacerbated by sunburn. Yes, even during wintertime, when the sun is less visible and seemingly less intense, UV rays can still be harmful to skin!
What Are the Symptoms of Winter Rash?
Winter rash typically appears as a general rash either all over the body or concentrated on the hands, arms, and face (the skin that is most exposed to the elements). It may present with a few or all of the following symptoms:
- Bumps and/or blisters
- Rough and/or scaly skin
- Increased skin sensitivity
Can I Prevent Winter Rash?
Unfortunately, winter rash is common for people with sensitivities. Prevention may be more difficult for those individuals who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, allergies, and asthma.
The good news for others is that it is relatively easy to prevent winter rash with appropriate skin care and lifestyle modifications. Steps to prevent winter rash include:
- Run a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor air;
- Keep your central heating at the lowest possible temperature you can tolerate;
- When bathing, switch to a gentle soap (and don’t use as much), and avoid hot water;
- Wear gloves when washing dishes or cleaning;
- Wear breathable natural fabric, such as cotton, to reduce skin irritation;
- Moisturize skin frequently during the day;
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent winter sunburn.
How Can I Treat Winter Rash?
If you’re already dealing with winter rash, the above preventative steps should still be taken to keep it from getting worse. In addition, you can treat winter rash with some or all of the following home remedies:
- Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area.
- Try a natural oil, such as coconut, safflower, or avocado to soothe your skin.
- Use a moisturizer containing urea or lactic acid for an extra hydration boost.
- Use a thick ointment that locks in moisture, such as Vaseline, Aquaphor, or vegetable shortening.
- Take a milk bath or dab milk on the affected area.
- Use oatmeal soap or take an oatmeal bath.
- Use an over-the-counter cortisone cream to reduce symptoms.
When Should I See a Doctor for Winter Rash?
Winter rash is typically not serious enough to see a doctor, although you may want to visit a dermatologist if it is making you uncomfortable.
However, it can be easy to mistake signs of something else for winter rash. You will want to visit a doctor if:
- The rash is accompanied by joint pain, fever, or sore throat;
- You are taking any new medications;
- The rash coincides with areas of swelling or extreme tenderness (possible signs of an infection);
- The rash continues to get worse despite home treatment.
We’re Here if You Need Us.
A rash is a common symptom of a wide variety of health conditions, so if you have any concern at all about a rash that is bothering you, our friendly doctors here at In and Out Express Care will be glad to take a look. Stop by one of our four urgent care clinics in Hampton Roads so we can help you feel better fast!