For those of us with sensitive skin, sudden changes in the weather can wreak havoc on our complexions. Hot showers, heavy clothing, time spent in front of space heaters and fireplaces, overuse of heavily scented moisturizers… these respites from the dry, frigid days of winter can cause unwanted stress to not only the outermost layers of our skin, but also the deeper layers—thereby harming the underlying structures that keep our skin looking and feeling healthy.
When not properly addressed, these concerns can often lead to the development of rashes, which—in addition to being unsightly and irritating—can further damage our skin and prove frustratingly difficult to remedy.
Understanding the Skin Barrier
You have likely heard the term barrier enhancing in advertisements for skincare products. The skin’s barrier is simply the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum consists of tough skin cells held together by lipids. This lipid layer is responsible for protecting our bodies from free radicals, environmental damage, pollutants, and other external stressors, and contains a combination of cholesterol, ceramides, keratin, fatty acids, and natural moisturizes to do so.
The lipid layer bears the brunt of our interaction with the world around us. We can support the lipid barrier by protecting our skin from ultraviolet radiation, nourishing our skin with antioxidants, and applying barrier enhancing moisturizers formulated to strengthen the stratum corneum. On the other hand, when we engage in harmful habits, our skin barrier becomes compromised, and we see the harm of this manifest in swaths of inflammation that can occur in isolated parts of our skin or spread to large, troublesome rashes.
The Winter Rash
When our lipid layer becomes compromised, our skin becomes prone to infection, disease, inflammation, and any number of concerns and ailments that can plague our complexions. In essence, our skin’s defenses are down, allowing for the development of—among other things—the dreaded winter rash.
Winter rashes can be difficult to treat, as many of the contributors of rash development cannot be outright avoided (bathing with hot water, cranking up the heat, etc.). When our skin loses its natural moisture levels, it becomes red, raw, flaky, itchy, and painful to the touch. So how do we counteract these effects?
Revamping Your Winter Skincare Routine
There are two major ways to remedy a winter rash: through the avoidance of harmful activities and substances and by providing the skin with the nourishment it needs to heal.
Possible contributors to any rash can include allergies, so it may be a good idea to have an allergy patch test performed to pinpoint certain causes. However, while allergies vary from person to person, there are some things that should be avoided by all. These include added fragrances, scratchy clothing, sun exposure without sunscreen application, and undue stress and fatigue.
It’s also important to invest in skincare products that are designed to not only soothe superficial irritation, but also strengthen the skin barrier to ensure proper healing and minimize the chance of a rash coming back once it has been treated.
All focus by Vanguard and clara branded skincare products are 100% free of fragrances, harsh solvents, and parabens. Furthermore, products such as Soothe, Surge, Regenerate, and Recovery Lotion are specifically formulated with ingredients known to boost moisture levels, reduce inflammation and redness, and soothe irritated skin. When paired with antioxidant products such as Bright CEF Serum and Daily C, we can give our skin the tools it needs to function at a healthy level.
To learn more about how you can adjust your skincare routine to remedy your winter rash or to schedule a consultation for an allergy patch test, contact Vanguard Skin Specialists today at (719)355-1585 or by filling out our online appointment request form.