It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that colder winter weather can be brutal on your skin. You can feel the effects for yourself when the air loses moisture and the lack of humidity causes evaporation of the water in your skin.
Winter’s the time when skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis tend to flare up. However, dry skin can affect anyone and the drier your skin becomes, the itchier you get – and the more likely you are to scratch.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your skin from dryness and damage in the winter months, and all year long:
- Moisturize correctly and often. Creams and ointments should be applied to your damp skin right after a shower to lock in moisture. Avoid alcohol-based lotions and gels that can further deplete skin moisture. Depending on your skin type, your dermatologist may recommend specific moisturizers to best hydrate and protect.
- Take lukewarm and relatively short showers. A long, hot shower may seem like a good way to warm up on a cold winter’s day, but it actually dries your skin. Keep your showers short and tepid to help maintain healthy, well-moisturized skin.
- Use a high SPF sunscreen. In winter? Yes. Not only does it protect you from harmful UV rays on a cold, but sunny day, it also protects your face, neck, and hands from wind chill exposure.
- Use petroleum-based products. These products can prevent chafing and cracked, dry skin while you’re outdoors in the cold. For added skin protection, apply these products to sensitive areas of your face such as your lips and the inside of your nostrils.
- Replace exfoliating washes with gentle cleansers and moisturizing soaps. Over-exfoliating can strip your skin of essential oils. Whereas formulations that contain microbeads can leave your face looking red and raw, these inexpensive, alternatives hydrate the skin and can be conveniently obtained from your neighborhood drug store or pharmacy.
- Use a humidifier – or create your own. As you probably know, a humidifier puts moisture back into the air. It’s a good investment to reduce dry conditions in your home. Or, if you don’t want to spend money on a new product, you can make one yourself. All it takes is large bowl filled with water and placed on a hot radiator.
- “Dress” for winter. One way to combat dry skin on your hands and feet is to lather them with moisturizer and sleep in cotton gloves and socks. You should also keep your hands and feet warm by covering them when outside, not just to prevent dryness, but also to optimize blood flow to your extremities. At the same time, be mindful that undergarments and sweaters worn in colder weather can irritate overlooked, sensitive areas like your underarms. So, keep these areas hydrated and protected.
Following these helpful tips can help you keep your skin healthy throughout the year, protecting one of your most important assets for the long run.
Whether you should protect your skin in the winter is a common question asked by dermatology patients at Vanguard Skin Specialists. Future blog posts will cover more topics popular with our patients such as “UV Light Reflection and Skin Cancer” and “Protecting Yourself in the Snow.”
A dermatologist can offer other preventive care tips for overall skin health. To learn more, contact the team at Vanguard Skin Specialists by calling (719) 355-1585.