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Dry Skin: Old Man Winter … or Something More?

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Dry Skin: Old Man Winter … or Something More?
Emily Jorge, DCNP
Dry Skin: Old Man Winter … or Something More?

Cold weather is finally here, and the elements will inevitably bombard our skin. Here are a few tips about protecting from dry skin … along with what could be more than just Old Man Winter.

By Emily Jorge, DCNP, FNP-BC


Cold days are coming and the elements will inevitably bombard our skin. When dealing with dry skin, have you ever felt there’s more flakes on your skin than outside on a snowy day?

A few tips about shielding ourselves from the weather are ahead along with what is expected and what may be more than just old man winter … read on.

  • Xerosis: This is a fancy name for dry skin and is expected to occur with the change in seasons. Taking fewer baths, finding the right lip balm (an economical option is Aquaphor for approximately $2.99), minimizing your camp fire exposure (which can be overly drying for your skin), adding a humidifier to rooms heated with furnaces, drinking lots of water, avoiding fabrics such as 100% wool, and loading up on moisturizer are all prudent. Zeichner et al evaluated the irritation, sensitization, and comedogenic potential of CeraVe Healing Ointment in 3 study cohorts and found it is well tolerated and improves skin hydration. Using this twice a day can prevent scaly skin.
  • Asteototic Eczema: Also known as Eczema Craquele’ or winter itch. This represents the extreme spectrum of xerosis. Frequently you will see not only scale and dry texture, but also fine fissuring that is itchy and sometimes burns. People who are more prone to this condition are the elderly due to decreased sebaceous/sweat gland activity and cell turnover rate. Choosing a harsh soap may contribute towards this along with some of the other factors already mentioned above with xerosis. Dove unscented soap as well as bathing less frequently can be helpful to minimize the risk for this condition.  Asteototic eczema may progress quickly and often needs a provider evaluation.
  • Actinic Keratosis (AK): Many people mistake these sharp adherent scales for dry skin and peel or pick them off, only to have them return. The average individual has 7.7 AK’s which develops at a rate of anywhere between 10.2%-20% over ten years into squamous cell carcinoma. Histologically there are six different types. Getting regular skin examinations is a great way to keep these in check. There are multiple treatment modalities available to eliminate AKs. Ask your provider for more information. Consistent use of sunscreen even on winter’s gray days contributes towards actinic damage prevention.

There are a number of skin conditions that can worsen in the winter such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and skin infections. If anything on your skin starts to itch, burn, bleed, grow, or change then it should be evaluated by a health care professional. For more information, view the video Rash 101 In Adults: When to Seek Treatment at

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About the author


Emily Jorge, DCNP

Emily Jorge is a Certified Dermatology Nurse Practitioner (DCNP) who holds certifications from the Board Certified American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board (DNCB). She also belongs to the National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners (NADNP), the Dermatology Nurses’ Association (DNA), and Chattanooga Area Nurses in Advanced Practice (CANAP).

She received her Master’s Degree Nurse Practitioner from Southern Adventist University. She practiced as an aesthetician/nurse in the field of dermatology from 2005 to 2011. Since 2012, as a dermatology certified nurse practitioner, she has focused on diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair, and nail diseases as well as the surgical aspects of dermatology. She is a preceptor for students interested in dermatology from area universities/colleges.

Emily is involved in a church plant in Chattanooga and serves as a volunteer for It Is Written. She also volunteers for the AMEN free clinics in Chattanooga, which offer free dental care, general medical care, and health education services to the uninsured and underinsured.

Emily Jorge, DCNP is now accepting patients in Dalton & Calhoun, GA.

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