Winter weather is in full force and your skin may be suffering. During the winter, your skin may show signs of dryness, roughness, itching, and sometimes even cracking and burning. Winter time can be tough on your skin, but there are ways to protect yourself.
What is it about winter that is tough on your skin?
Cold weather outside and hot dehumidified air (due to heaters) indoors pulls out the water in the skin. This ultimately disrupts the skin barrier (your defensive mechanism against irritants). Barrier lipids are extremely important in protecting your skin. When these are disrupted and lost, the skin protein is damaged. This process continues until the skin becomes irritated and inflamed.
What are common mistakes made during winter that can lead to winter itch and inflamed skin?
Using hot water when showering:
Hot water, whether showering or repetitive hand washing, can strip the natural oils of your skin. Add in harsh soaps and you destroy that barrier even more. It is best to turn your water temperature down and make sure you are using a hydrating cleanser such as Cerave or Cetaphil. Make sure to fully rinse off soap residue on body and when washing hands, as the residue can destroy the skin barrier even more.
Not applying or using the correct moisturizer:
You want a moisturizer that is going to help you restore lost lipids and your skin barrier. Products like Cerave cream, Cetaphil, or Aveeno or great options to use. These help to bind with water and restore your skin barrier.
Apply your moisturizer correctly:
Moisturizer is best when applied after a shower or bath, when your skin is a little moist. It is best to pat your skin dry, versus vigorously rubbing, as this can further disrupt your skin barrier. Applying a moisturizing multiple times a day can be very beneficial, especially with repetitive hand washing.
Don’t forget your lips:
Your lips also need extra protection during the winter. Make sure you use a lip balm and often. Ingredients to avoid are camphor, menthol, fragrance and salicylic acid. These sometimes can be allergens for people, making their chapped lips worse, or feeling the need to constantly reapply.
The sun may not feel present during the winter, but those dangerous UV rays still are. Make sure to wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher every single day on exposed skin. Sunburns can lead to wrinkles, aging, sun spots, and skin cancer.
Exposing your skin open to the harsh winter weather:
Did your mom ever tell you “never leave the house without your gloves or hat?” She was right! Cover your exposed body parts with gloves and hats to protect the harsh weather from pulling water out of your skin.