The weather outside is getting frightful, which must mean we’ve entered the winter season. For people with all skin types, it can be a lot more challenging to keep skin healthy and moisturized in the cold, unforgiving air outside and the dry, punishing heat inside. Your skin is your body’s first line of defense when it comes to preventing illness, so keeping it healthy can directly influence how you feel all winter long. While most people simply dismiss dry winter skin as a fact of life, there are actually a lot of simple changes you can make to ease your skin’s discomfort. American Family Care has the expertise to treat minor skin irritations associated with the season, but it’s best to prevent them from cropping up in the first place!
- First, look at how you moisturize your skin. You might find that you need a stronger moisturizer than you typically use. Preference should go to thicker lotions that you scoop out of a jar or squeeze out of a tube, since lotions with a pump are usually diluted with water or alcohol. Many people will actually see their skin type change when the air becomes cooler, so pay close attention to how your skin feels so you can alter your skin care regimen.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen! The colder weather doesn’t mean the sun has gone into hibernation. Many people visit the mountains or go out in the snow during the winter, and the thinner air and the reflective properties of the snow can amplify exposure to UV rays.
- In the winter, you might need to work hard to avoid irritating your skin. Exposing your skin to irritants in the winter can lead to nummular dermatitis, which are itchy, scaly patches of skin. In addition to moisturizing it and covering it to protect it from the elements, you should try to avoid products with dyes and fragrances, which can irritate sensitive skin. Even products that come into contact with your skin indirectly can aggravate troubled skin, so make sure things like your laundry detergent don’t include irritating chemicals.
- People sweat, even when it’s cold out, and this can cause skin irritation known as “winter itch,” chafing and even frostbite. To help protect your skin, wear multiple layers, with a moisture-wicking fabric closest to your skin.
- Using a humidifier can help keep your skin, nose and eyes from getting too dry. We all studied osmosis in science class, which is a process where water molecules travel through any permeable surface to equalize the amount on either side. When the air is dry, water will leave your skin by osmosis, drying it out. Using a humidifier to get the air to 30 to 50 percent humidity will help keep this from happening.
- Winter takes an especially hard toll on people with eczema or psoriasis. The steps listed above can go a long way to preventing flare-ups. There is also evidence that avoiding illnesses and infections and eating a healthy diet can keep you healthy, since both are autoimmune diseases.
With all the other tasks on your to-do list, adding more things to keep your skin healthy might seem like a chore. But your skin is always changing, and the small actions you take now can help preserve it long into the future. So if your skin is cracked, scaly or itchy because of the winter weather, start looking into ways you can change your skin care routine to get your skin back to normal!