Does Washing With Cold Water Cause Dry Skin?

Woman splashing water on face
Washing with cold water can worsen rosacea. (Image: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Dry skin is a common problem affecting most people at some point in their lives, but washing with cold water is generally not a contributing factor. Dry skin can be treated with and respond to a variety of treatments, some of which require the attention of a medical professional.

Dry Skin Caused by Water Exposure

Washing with hot water dries out or further aggravates already dry skin, while cold water does not have a drying affect. Excessive washing or contact with water, regardless of temperature, can dry skin. For the best results, experts recommend once a day for normal, dry or sensitive skin or twice a day for oily skin. In either case, it's best to use lukewarm water.

Other Causes of Dry Skin

Weather, heat, soaps and sun exposure also dry your skin. Dry, winter weather is one of the most common causes of dry skin, as cold temperatures and lack of humidity tend to rob skin of moisture. Some climates, such as deserts, are always dry, and dry skin issues may persist year-round. Hot, dry weather also tends to reduce humidity enough to affect skin. Other common causes of dry skin include harsh soaps and household chemicals, such as chlorine. Personal products such as face washes and deodorants and antibacterial products may also be to blame. Sun exposure can quickly dry skin.

Treatment of Dry Skin

A simple over-the-counter moisturizer immediately after washing is often sufficient to hydrate your skin. Other treatment options include using a humidifier in the winter months, washing less frequently so the skin retains natural moisture, and refraining from scratching dry skin. Avoiding irritating fabrics and staying away from fragranced fabric softener and topical products may help.

Considerations

Dry skin can be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires the attention of a medical professional, such as a dermatologist. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis are less likely to respond to simple treatments. Medical professionals can prescribe topical creams that contain lactic acid, urea or corticosteroids, all of which are proven to aid in healing dry skin.

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