Cold Weather Skin Care: Looking After Your Skin This Winter
The cold weather isn't for everyone. And after weeks of winter, your body may start to feel the effects. Our lips, hands, hair and nails can all suffer from the exposure to cold, but our skin is especially vulnerable in cold weather.
You probably know your skin is the largest organ in the human body. Its primary role is to act as a barrier against the environment, UV radiation, chemicals and microorganisms. It also regulates body temperature by releasing sweat to cool us down when we get too hot or by increasing blood flow to our extremities when we’re cold.
So, how can we best protect our skin from the harsher weather and stay glowing all winter long?
First, it’s important to understand why winter is harder on our skin.
Dry skin can be caused by lots of factors such as genetics, poor diet, certain medications and stress. But in the winter, the biggest culprit of dull, scratchy skin is the dry air and colder temperatures. When the temperature drops, so does the humidity in the air. Low humidity means your skin won't retain as much moisture from bathing and washing as it would otherwise. This leads to issues like irritation, dryness, itching, flaking and cracking, to more serious concerns like atopic dermatitis or eczema. In extreme situations, lesions from dryness can become infected, scar and cause extreme discomfort.
How can you stop moisture from leaving your skin?
• Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps and cleansers. Harsh cleaners will remove moisture and overly fragranced products can cause irritation. Opt for a gentle, hydrating soap that contain natural ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, shea butter and jojoba oil.
• Avoid overly hot showers. Hot water can make your skin drier. Try turning the temperature down on your shower, or even better, try switching from a hot shower every day to a warm one every other day.
• Skip harsh or abrasive scrubs as they will just remove more moisture from the top surface of your skin that would otherwise help prevent chapping and irritation. You could also try using an exfoliating cloth instead of a scrubbing product.
• Wear soft clothes made of natural materials like cotton that allow your skin to breathe. Avoid wearing tight clothing that rubs and scratches against your skin. This includes tight jeans, leggings and tights. Loose-fitting clothes allow air to circulate around your body so your skin can breathe better.
How do you best add moisture back into your skin?
• Immediately moisturize after a shower, while your skin is still damp and your pores are still open. Moisturizing while your skin is still damp also helps prevent water evaporation from the surface of your skin.
• Choose creams that contain ceramides. Ceramides are a type of fat found in the outer layer of skin cells and help restore barrier function. They help keep water inside the skin so it remains soft and supple. When ceramide levels drop, your skin loses moisture, leading to dryness, flaking, itching and cracking.
• Check the ingredients in your lotion. Many lotions contain ingredients that also make skin feel dry and tight, such as alcohol, menthol, camphor, lanolin and eucalyptus oil. These ingredients can inflame your skin or cause allergic reactions.
• Apply hand cream immediately after washing your hands. So much moisture is lost through frequent hand washing, which is important to stop the spread of bacteria and germs. Find a hand cream that includes softening ingredients like shea butter, beeswax or cocoa butter.
• Use a humidifier. Humidifiers help fill your home with moisture and can relieve some of the dryness caused by central heating. If you don’t have a humidifier, consider using a cool mist vaporizer in your bedroom at night.
• Sunscreen is still important and useful in the winter. Yes, sunburns are less rare, but sunscreen can still help protect your skin from UV damage that will ultimately cause more dryness and irritation.
• Don't forget to drink water. It is just as important to make sure you stay hydrated in the winter. Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day can improve your skin's appearance and help every organ in your body function properly.
If you’ve been feeling like your skin is looking less than its best, it may be time to reach out to an expert. CaroMont Dermatology offers latest techniques to prevent and treat a wide range of skin conditions. Our team is committed to offering advanced, personalized and convenient dermatology services to our patients. Learn more here.