Winter is rough for many reasons. Short days can be depressing, cold weather is often uncomfortable, and heavy snow can make driving dangerous. In addition to these seasonal woes, your skin may bear the brunt of winter’s wrath, becoming dry, red, and itchy. Maintaining a proper skincare routine is important year-round, but it’s especially crucial during these cold months. If you want to keep your skin hydrated, healthy, and happy this season and beyond, here are some useful winter skin tips.
During the winter, the air’s low humidity levels prevent our skin from naturally maintaining its smooth texture and bright appearance. On top of that, daily activities that expose your hands to an excess of hot water and soap (like washing your hands or showering) can dry out your skin as well. Investing in a quality moisturizing cream or ointment can help restore your skin’s moisture levels and avoid dry skin rash and other problems. Try to cover all of your skin, but pay particular attention to your hands, face, and lips.
Of course, there are many different types of moisturizers on the market, and some might work better or worse for your skin. Take the time to find the right option for you.
Most people enjoy taking a shower or bath in general, and when it’s cold out, you might be tempted to lengthen your time in the tub even more. However, prolonged hot showers and baths can severely dry out your skin and further irritate any existing skin conditions like eczema. So, as much as it might hurt in the short-term to lower the temperature and duration of your showers, it might hurt your skin in the long-term if you spend too long soaking in the hot water.
Speaking of water, maintaining your internal hydration levels can help your skin’s hydration in the end. Plus, drinking plenty of water is good for your overall health. If the thought of ice-cold water in winter doesn’t appeal to you, go for room temperature water instead, and try some tea every now and then to warm yourself up.
Staying warm is a priority during the winter, and most people do so by wearing multiple layers of clothing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with layering up, but the type of clothing you choose to wear can irritate your skin when in direct contact with it. Rough materials like wool, for instance, though quite warm, can cause a lot of friction, too. Additionally, if you’re wearing a lot of layers for a prolonged period of time, you might begin to sweat. While sweat is certainly a form of moisture, it’s not the kind you want, as this dampness can lead to itchy skin. So, it’s wise to go with softer, lighter, less irritating clothes as your first layer, and then add heavier options on top. Should your clothes get wet from your body heat, snow, etc., try to remove them as quickly as possible without leaving your body open to the cold.
Unless you’re into winter sports or have to walk to work, you, like many others, probably prefer to spend most of the winter inside where it’s consistently warm. If so, consider installing a humidifier or two where you reside the most. After all, the air inside can still get quite dry during winter. Just like the air outside, this internal dry air can cause skin conditions like psoriasis to act up. A humidifier introduces moisture back into the air, helping your skin retain its own moisture.
On that note of staying indoors, be mindful of your thermostat. Most internal heating methods, while effective, tend to dry out the air even more. So, although 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit might be the most comfortable temperature for you, somewhere between 66 and 68 is often better on your skin. You may have to sacrifice a little bit of comfort to keep your skin in good shape.
Believe it or not, the sun’s rays can still harm your skin during the winter months, even when it’s cloudy. Wearing sunscreen regularly protects your skin from sun damage (which can cause your skin to burn, flake, and peel) while also helping it retain its moisture. It’s a winter win-win!
Your skin is unique, and as such, caring for it properly requires an individualized approach. One of your dermatologist’s jobs is to help you understand your skin type and find the right skincare regiment for it. Therefore, the best way to care for your chapped and dry skin during the winter (and year-round) is to seek help from dermatologists. They will examine your skin, prescribe any necessary or beneficial products, and give you additional, personalized advice for maintaining your skin’s health and appearance.