lifestyle

Dry, itchy skin? You might be taking too many showers


We understand the temptation (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

We get it. When it’s this cold, there’s a very real temptation to spend all your time in the warmth of a hot shower.

It might start with just an extra few minutes standing under the water each morning, but then you’ve added a nighttime shower, too, or one for the moment you get in from the cold, before you change into your cosiest sweatpants and jumper combo.

We’re not here to shame you for this habit. Needs must.

But what you do need to be aware of is the impact the extra shower time could be having on your skin.

It’s easy to assume that dry, irritated, itchy, and dull skin is just a result of the cold weather itself, but one expert notes that it could actually be excessive showering that’s to blame.

Dr Manuraf Singh of My Healthcare Clinic explains: ‘Every time you wash your skin you are taking part of the epidermal barrier away.

‘Showering once a day is enough for most people. Two showers is over the top, I think.

‘Obviously if you get dirty or become particularly sweaty you should wash this off, but in general I advise sticking to once a day for most adults.’

Don’t overdo it (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

That epidermal barrier Dr Manuraf mentions is important. It’s the first line of defence for your skin, helping to limit water loss and prevent dryness.

The skin can already struggle in winter thanks to colder temperatures, itchier and heavier fabrics, and central heating, but when you ramp up the showers, you make it even tougher for the skin to cope.

‘Central heating takes moisture away from the skin so during the colder months people can definitely find their skin drying out more,’ Dr Manuraf notes.

‘People with pre-existing dry skin and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema may also find they get worse during the winter.

‘We also tend to go outside less during colder months so we don’t get as many UV rays, which are naturally anti-inflammatory.

‘Obviously we don’t want too many UV rays because they damage your DNA over a period of time which can lead to premature ageing and skin cancer, but sensible exposure to sunshine while wearing appropriate clothing and sun cream is okay.’

The key to caring for the skin in winter is not to wash it more, but prioritise locking in moisture.

Cut back to your usual daily shower, rather than topping up with hot water in the day, avoid overly perfumed products, and up your moisturisers, advises Dr Singh.

‘It’s really important, especially for older people, to regularly moisturise,’ he adds. ‘Skin can easily dry out enough to exacerbate epidermal barrier break down.

‘When washing and showering use products that are not overly perfumed. You might want to opt for ranges that are less scented and moisturise regularly at the same time.’

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