It’s that time of year again – winter is in full swing and dangerously cold temperatures are gripping the nation. Being outside in this type of weather presents all kinds of hazards, not the least of which involve skin problems. Cold, dry weather can cause skin to crack, peel, itch and even bleed if not properly cared for.
Some people have it worse than others, also. Jobs that require working with water such as dishwashing or house cleaning can absolutely wreak havoc on a person’s hands during the winter. People with eczema or psoriasis can also suffer greatly when the weather gets colder. Luckily, there are some easy winter skin care tips that can prevent cracking and itchiness regardless of your job or any pre-existing skin conditions.
1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
This seems like like the most obvious rule, but it can easily be overlooked. Try experimenting with different lotions, creams and natural oils to see which products work best for you. Put your moisturizer on immediately after getting out of the shower, and don’t hesitate to apply it to all areas of your body (except those prohibited by the moisturizer directions of course).
Hands often need more moisturizer than any other area, especially for people who suffer with eczema. With winter also being cold and flu season, you’re hopefully washing your hands more than usual – this takes a toll. Place moisturizer right next to the soap in the bathroom to remind you to use it each time after washing your hands. Bring moisturizer with you to work. One technique that’s highly effective for severely dry, cracked hands involves putting Vaseline in a pair of gloves and wearing them overnight.
2. Shower in Cooler Water
A hot bath or shower can feel great on those particularly cold winter days. Unfortunately, scalding hot water can dry your skin out quite badly. As unsatisfying as it may be, lukewarm showers are better for your skin in the winter.
3. Protect Yourself From Wind
Cold, harsh wind will dry out any exposed skin while outdoors. Be sure to wear a scarf that you can pull up over your nose to protect your whole face. A tight hood may be preferable to a hat when it comes to wind protection because it blocks the sides of your face.
4. Avoid Harsh Face Chemicals
There are so many skin products out there that it can be difficult to tell which ones to use and when. Winter skin care needs to be approached gently, meaning that harsh astringents or facial peels should be avoided. In general, if the product contains alcohol, there’s no doubt it’ll dry out your face.
5. Use Sunscreen
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the sun can’t still harm your skin. Skin cancer is a growing problem, and winter can actually cause harmful rays to be exacerbated when the sun reflects off of snow. If you’re going skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or just spending time outside on a cold, sunny day, put some sunscreen on your face.
6. Dietary Changes
If you want to battle winter skin dryness, simply consume more water. Drinking more water gives your body the resources to moisturize your skin on its own. Ideally, you’d drink it through a straw to avoid the water that stays on your lips while drinking from a bottle. Keeping your lips dry can prevent them from chapping.
Also, it’s thought that omega 3 fatty acids and other fish oil supplements could help the body regulate oil production, which again allows your skin to stay moisturized on its own.
7. Use a Humidifier
This one’s a no-brainer. If you have a humidifier, get it out and use it in the room where you spend most of your time. Many people like to use a humidifier in the bedroom overnight. If you don’t have one, consider the fact that even a cheap humidifier could get results when used consistently.
8. Avoid Scratchy Clothes
Scratchy fabrics such as wool and tight denim can cause a vicious cycle of redness, chaffing and itching. Scratchy towels can also cause skin issues. Avoid these fabrics as much as possible, and use fabric softener when washing them.
9. Don’t Forget About Your Lips
Bring lip moisturizer with you wherever you go. Even if you don’t have chapped lips yet, preemptive use of lip moisturizer can prevent you from ending up with painful, cracked lips. Apply it especially if you know you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.
10. Avoid Wet Clothes
Going outside to shovel, clean off your car, or play winter sports can leave your gloves, socks and boots wet. Don’t allow yourself to keep wet clothes on for too long, as this will no doubt dry out your skin. Also, make sure your clothes are completely dry after they come out of the dryer.
Winter Skin Care: The Bottom Line
The main things to remember are to use moisturizer and cover your skin when going outside. If you find that your skin is irreversibly itchy to the point where it’s cracking and bleeding no matter what you do, it’s time to see a dermatologist. Several prescription moisturizers exist that could solve your dry skin issues.