January 14, 2009 (Jamaica, NY)– Flu and cold-like symptoms are not the only conditions sending patients to the doctor this winter. Dermatologists, too, are busy treating patients who may suffer from what is frequently termed ÛÏwinter itch.”
ÛÏWhen the skin does not get enough water it becomes dry, cracked, flaky, and often leads to an itchy sensation,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Weinberg, Dermatologist at Jamaica HospitalÛªs Ambulatory Care Center. ÛÏThis happens because the air outside is extremely dry and very cold. In addition, the heating systems we use in our homes dry the air as well.”
The harsh weather conditions of winter make skin care extremely important. During the winter months, the fight is to relieve and prevent winter itch by taking steps to retain moisture in the skin. Dr. Weinberg offers the following suggestions:
- Keep the skin moisturized. Moisturizing ointments and lotions help keep water trapped in the skin. For best results, apply immediately after a bath or shower.
- Avoid long and hot showers. Focus on five minute showers, using only lukewarm water. Instead of rubbing, gently pat dry the skin after bathing.
- DonÛªt over cleanse the skin. Use non-detergent-based cleansers and when possible, only rinse with water. These types of cleansers do not irritate the skin. Excessive bathing/showering causes the skin to lose some of its natural oils.
- Use a humidifier. Humidifiers help retain moisture in the air.
- Limit wind exposure and being out in extreme cold weather. Remember, when going outdoors keep the skin protected. If symptoms are especially bad, try to avoid woolen clothing.
- Limit sun exposure. Winter sun can be just as harmful as the summer sun. If outdoors for long periods of time, apply sunscreen.
Anyone can get winter itch but people who work outside, constantly work with their hands in water, or have a family history of asthma or allergies are at a greater risk of suffering from winter itch. By taking proper precautions however, the risk of developing this condition can be greatly reduced.
If you experience severe ÛÏwinter itch” and would like to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist, please call at 718-206-6742.
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and eastern Brooklyn. This 387-bed medical center is an accredited community teaching hospital with a large network of community-based ambulatory care centers. The Ambulatory Care Centers provide a full range of general and specialty services, such as pediatrics, medical, orthopedic, and surgical services in over 35 separate clinics. JHMC also offers an array of acute inpatient, rehabilitation and mental health services, and is one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in New York City. Jamaica Hospital Medical CenterÛªs mission is to serve patients and the community in a way that is second to none. For additional information, please contact Public Affairs at 718-206-6020.