Winter Skin Care: How to Protect Yourself in Cold Weather
Wintry weather can really take a toll on your skin. Many people suffer from dry, cracked, even bleeding skin during the winter season. However, it doesn’t have to be a fact of life. You definitely can protect yourself with a few winter skin care tips that are not only easy, but can be rather enjoyable.
Why Our Skin Gets Drier in the Winter
When temperatures and humidity drop in the winter, the skin has to work harder to maintain adequate hydration.
Humidity levels tend to drop off in the autumn and winter months. The drier the air, the more moisture it sucks from your skin. As a result of this loss of hydration, you’re more likely to experience dryness, cracks in the outer layer of the skin, inflammation, and flakiness during the colder months of the year.
Dry skin naturally produces less sebum, your skin’s natural lubricant, so it often feels parched.
Exacerbating the problem is that heated air indoors causes low humidity, which leads to water evaporating from our skins. Additionally, hot baths and showers can dissolve the protective barrier in the skin, which will eventually lead to dryness.
Winter Skin Care Tips You Can Use to Protect Yourself
You may have to be proactive, but if you do take a little time to protect yourself with the following winter skin care tips, you can have smoother, healthier skin for the season.
- Use a humidifier in your home. Several different types and sizes of humidifiers are available in stores, depending on your needs. An HVAC technician can even incorporate a whole home humidifier into your HVAC system.
- When you are outdoors, protect your nose, fingers, toes, and other areas of your body from harsh winds. Cover up with gloves, scarves, dry socks, boots, and other cold weather gear.
- Pay close attention to what you do during and after showering or bathing. Think of showering as “watering your skin,” and you want to do your best to trap in that moisture.
- Do not use extremely hot water, and avoid long hot showers.
- After your shower, pat your skin dry as opposed to wiping.
- Moisturize with a thick ointment or cream immediately after your shower. Make sure all facial moisturizers are non-comedogenic, as these will prevent breakouts.
- In addition to moisturizer, remember to use sunscreen in the winter as well as the summer. The sun is sneaky, and the reflection of UV rays off the white snow can increase the UV exposure. Broad spectrum sunscreens are best. Physical blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide, typically filter out the most harmful UV rays the best.
- If you participate in winter sports, take extra precautions by protecting yourself from the sun; moisturizing regularly; protecting your “tips” such as the nose, fingers, and toes; and warming up every few hours. Keep an extra set of dry outerwear and general clothing handy so that you can change into them in the event your socks, gloves, or other clothing become wet.
If you do experience frostbite, seek medical attention immediately. Waiting to do so or prolonging your time in the cold could possibly lead to permanent damage.
Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin. If you do have frostbite, first your skin becomes very cold and red, and then numb, hard, and pale. Symptoms include pain and burning.
Warming and then re-exposing the frostbitten area to cold air can worsen the damage. Instead, gently warm the area in warm (not hot) water or with wet heat until the skin appears slightly red and warm. Loosely wrap the area with sterile sheets, towels, or dressings to protect the skin until you can see a medical professional.