Why Does My Skin Get Itchy When It's Cold?

It might seem odd that your skin gets itchy in winter but there’s a good explanation for it, we promise! This blog explores the connection between cold temperatures and itchy skin, looking at why it happens and what you can do about it.

The trouble with winter is all to do with humidity and temperature.Colder, drier air dries out your skin: the less moisture there is in the air, the more it pulls from the skin. While the skin isn’t watertight and loses moisture over the course of a day quite naturally, whatever time of year it is, as the seasons change this effect can be intensified dramatically. 

So what does this lost moisture mean for your skin? Well, without moisture the skin can get fragile, and the protective barrier it makes can become impaired, letting yet more moisture escape.

The skin barrier function

Imagine the top layer of skin as a wall made of bricks and mortar: without water to keep the skin plump and healthy, it’s as if the mortar was crumbling and the bricks were too small and uneven to make a good barrier. When skin gets dry, it’s less flexible, less resilient and even less good at keeping moisture in. The wall doesn’t work as it should, and needs strengthening.

What does dry winter skin feel like?

Once moisture is lost from the skin, it can get dry, flaky, more sensitive, itchy or rough. It can feel tight, uncomfortable and sore. These are all symptoms of moisture loss.

Why does dry skin feel itchy?

The more fragile, tight and sensitive skin is, the more likely it is to feel itchy. Fragile skin can let everyday allergens and irritants through its faulty barrier and cause an inflammatory reaction; things like dust, pet hair, detergents and soaps which you’ve been able to tolerate all summer can become problematic when the temperatures drop.

It’s also possible that the nerve endings which trigger itch will be stimulated if the skin is dry and damaged, and set off an itching sensation. If the itch is scratched, that will continue to stimulate those nerves, and can cause further damage to the skin.

Breaking the cycle

All these different factors mean that dry skin can be very hard to get rid of! The drier skin, the more itchy it is, and the more itchy it the more likely it is to get damaged, and even drier. The cycle needs to be broken.

How do you break that dry, itchy cycle? By adding moisture back into the skin so that it gets the chance to heal. The best way to do that in cold weather is to use an unscented, oil-rich moisturiser regularly throughout the day. A good moisturiser will provide an oily layer over dry skin, filling in the cracks and protecting it from further moisture loss. It will also protect from those pesky allergens and irritants! 

Recommended products for winter skin:

Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax

Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula

Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive


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