During the winter months, your skin naturally loses some of its moisture, which can lead to the development of new rashes. For some people, these rashes come up every winter. For others, they may have a rash for the first time this winter. It is important to know what causes these winter rashes and, more importantly, how to get rid of them!
The most common rashes that we see during the winter in Minnesota are:
Eczema: Eczema is a very common rash, which is often caused by the breakdown of the skin’s natural barrier. When the barrier of the skin breaks down, your skin’s moisture can escape. When the barrier of the skin is broken, and the moisture in your skin decreases, this leads to inflammation of the skin. Inflammation of the skin can appear red, flaky, itchy, or painful. The most commonly used treatments for eczema are emollients (moisturizers) and topical anti-inflammatory steroid creams or ointments.
Psoriasis: Psoriasis is another inflammatory condition of the skin; rather than the barrier of the skin breaking down, the skin cells are over-produced at a rate that is faster than the skin naturally sheds itself. The result is a thickening of the skin, which often appears reddish with thick white or silvery scale. While psoriasis can flare at any time of the year, winter is often the time when psoriasis flares are the worst. During the summer months, the UV rays of the sun and the moisture in the air actually help to keep psoriasis in check. During the dry winter months, the affected skin is not exposed to UV light. Psoriasis requires treatment by a dermatologist. The most commonly used treatments for psoriasis are topical anti-inflammatory steroid creams and a UV light-based treatment called the Excimer Laser (this is often referred to as the ‘laser for psoriasis.’)
Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is the medical term for the condition that we all know as dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp occurs as a reaction to yeast that naturally lives on the skin. When the skin reacts by becoming inflamed, itching and flakes are produced on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis can appear on other areas of the body as well, most commonly around the eyebrows and sides of the nostrils. Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include anti-fungal shampoos, anti-fungal creams, anti-inflammatory shampoos, and anti-inflammatory creams.
While these are the winter rashes most commonly seen in Minnesota, these are not the only rashes that appear during the winter months. It is important to visit your dermatologist to determine the cause of your rash and to receive the most appropriate treatment recommendations.