Alert: Winter cold spells can lead to extra dry skin

The onset of cooler, dry outdoor air of the winter months produces increased indoor drying stresses on your skin. As a result, people use moisturizing lotions and creams as well as room humidifiers to minimize the formation of dry skin. However, when a major cold front or a “Polar Vortex” event occurs, it can really disrupt your skin care!

Why do winter cold fronts increase the risk of dry skin?

Most of the news surrounding a winter cold front will focus on reduced temperatures and wind-chill factors, yet the indoor environment will be impacted too–including your skin care. Why would this be? First of all, as the cold front hits, the water vapor content of outdoor air can drop dramatically along with temperature. These changes result in lower indoor humidities as the dry air seeps into much warmer houses. Second, to reduce your heating bill you may want to turn the thermostat down a bit (this is a good thing), but the lower indoor temperature and humidity will actually increase the drying stresses on your skin. Third, you can’t sense the magnitude of these dermal drying stresses, and consequently, you may not think about the need to hydrate skin. The final, surprising result for many people, including those with aging skin, is the formation of unexpected dry, rough, or flaky skin!

How can you adapt your skin care to weather events?

To help address the dermal indoor stresses brought on by a major winter cold system, think about the potential increases in the indoor drying stresses on your skin and plan on using extra skin moisturizers as well as a room humidifier to counteract the dermal stresses.

Dermidia also offers the DSI Sense sensor device plus smartphone app that constantly tracks the Dry Skin Index, which is a measure of indoor drying stresses caused by changes in temperature and relative humidity. With the DSI Sense, you won’t be caught off-guard by weather events that alter indoor conditions impacting your skin. This feature may be particularly valuable to people whose skin is prone to seasonal dryness.


  • When a major cold front hits, we think of the temperatures and wind chill factors because they make the headlines. Nevertheless, the indoor environment is impacted as well–including our skin care!
  • Anticipate the changes in the indoor drying stresses on your skin as the cold front passes, and compensate by applying moisturizing creams and lotions to areas of your skin that are prone to dryness. Room humidifiers are also useful because they can help hydrate skin when moisturizers alone may not be enough.
  • Consider getting a DSI Sense to monitor skin stressors so that you can proactively manage your skin care in response to changes in the weather.

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