Winter can be just as harsh on your skin as the dog days of summer. Skin drying out due to cold air is the main concern, although there are plenty of proven ways to protect yourself.
Staying hydrated is key. Dermatologists also recommend daily moisturizing, as studies show that the drier air during the winter can lead to the development of skin rashes and scalp issues that can cause hair loss.
The medical term for dry skin is xerosis. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dry skin include:
The first rule of winter skin protection is also the most obvious: cover up. That means not just an overcoat, but scarves and gloves as well. Protect your hands and face to prevent cracked, drying skin, which can become painful. In severe cases, cracked skin can lead to bleeding as the body struggles to repair itself from the effects of cold air.
At day’s end, applying a quality lotion or emollient formulation to the hands and face – and leaving it on overnight – is a great way to rejuvenate your skin after a cold winter day outdoors. Letting the lotion work overnight gives it time to absorb into the skin.
There are numerous over-the-counter lotions and emollients. If the choices seem overwhelming, talk to your dermatologist about a product that’s right for your skin type.
If your skin seems extra sensitive or irritated due to the cold, dry air, you should consider simplifying your skin care routine for the time being. Skip the facial scrubs, or cut back to every few days, for example. This gives your skin more time to heal. Use exfoliants sparingly in the winter to reduce risk of skin damage.
Apply a moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, then use a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturizer at night.
You might also want to stop using alcohol-based fragrances, which can further dry the skin and cause irritation.
A humidifier adds moisture back into the air, which can be helpful in the winter months. The moist air will help keep your skin, mouth, and nose lubricated, and helps prevent nasty static shocks. Having more moisture in the air can also prevent and relieve skin dryness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A humidifier set to 60% in winter can replenish moisture in the top layer of your skin, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
This includes both your home heating system and the thermostat on your hot water tank. Warm to lukewarm bath water will be more beneficial to your skin than hot water. This is because hot water can strip away the skin’s natural oils faster than water around 98.6°F. After bathing, dry off gently.
Lowering the heat indoors can also help your skin stay hydrated. Wear a comfortable sweater indoors and throw an extra blanket on the bed to compensate for the lower temperature. It’s better for your skin than cranking the heat all winter. You’ll notice some savings on your utility bill, too.
If nothing else is working to restore your skin – or not working well enough to satisfy – consider adding an occlusive preparation to your beauty routine. Occlusives create a physical barrier that locks moisture into your skin. Shea and cocoa butter are common examples, as are petroleum jelly products like Vaseline and Aquaphor.
Hydration is a critical component of healthy, glowing skin. Get in the habit of carrying a reusable water bottle, which is a cost-effective way to ensure you stay hydrated all day long.
When it’s mealtime, choose foods high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Broccoli, spinach, carrots and potatoes are rich in antioxidants. Salmon is the classic example of a food loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, although most other fish also contain large quantities of omega-3. Vegetable oils, walnuts, leafy green vegetables and flax seeds likewise contain omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants and omega-3 protect skin cells from environmental damage and help your body make healthy new cells.
While common, dry skin in winter need not be inevitable. Use moisturizer, go easy on the facial scrubs, run a humidifier – especially at night – cover exposed skin when outdoors and stay hydrated. Follow these steps and you can enjoy healthy vibrant skin throughout the winter months.
If you have concerns about any skin condition and need dependable answers, you don’t have to worry or wait. Walk-in Dermatology is here to keep you healthy. Our team of dermatologists and experienced healthcare staff will address your concerns and provide the necessary care for all your skin conditions. We can set up a Video Visit and even prescribe medications remotely, or you can schedule an appointment with us online. The choice is yours. But don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Contact us today.