(edited from the skininformation.com articles: Winter Skin Care)
Wintertime can be hard on the skin. Winter itch, dry skin and chapped lips are common complaints for many of us who live in colder climates. If you have eczema or psoriasis, you may notice that your condition will tend to get worse over the fall and winter months.
The main culprit behind skin dryness and irritation is your skin being exposed to the drying effects produced by the combination of indoor heat, wind and outdoor cold temperatures. Luckily, there are a variety of ways you can keep cold, arid weather from wreaking havoc on your skin.
Below are some simple skin care solutions that will help protect and preserve your skin year-round:
1. Hydrate Your Skin The Right Way
Harsh winter conditions tend to interrupt your skin’s ability to retain adequate hydration levels. Daily maintenance with moisturizers is essential during colder weather in order to avoid getting trapped in the dry skin cycle. When the moisture barrier defense system of your skin is compromised, your body compensates by overproducing cells and slowing the natural rate of shedding. The process results in a thicker surface layer that’s comprised of oil and dead skin cells and gives rise to a rough, dull and dry texture.
Take a preemptive approach by moisturizing frequently. If your skin is especially prone to dryness, try an oil-based moisturizer to provide extra protection – the higher the oil content, the better it will retain the moisture in your skin.
Take care in selecting a suitable product, particularly for the face, where it is most susceptible to acne breakouts. You’ll notice that many brands include natural ingredients, such as aloe vera and vitamins, which are typically added to emollient-rich formulations to further enhance hydration and nourishment to the skin.
2. Bathe Carefully
Many people treat their skin with hot and long baths or showers in an attempt to moisturize their dry and irritated skin, and also because they are often cold during the winter. Unfortunately this has the effect of removing the skin’s natural oils which maintain skin moisture and prevent water evaporation from the skin, making their skin even drier, and aggravating their eczema.
Other common mistakes include the excessive use of soaps and bubble baths, which are a form of detergent. For general washing, simple rinsing with plain water will suffice, leaving the natural oils that protect your skin’s moisture intact. Instead of soaps and detergents which can be irritants for the skin, opt for gentle cleansing options, such as Cetaphil™, Dove™, or SpectroDerm™.
Ensure that your hands are rinsed thoroughly. Often left over soap residue from inadequate rinsing is the cause of skin irritation, which substantially increases water loss from the skin. Application of moisturizing cream following drying can help lock in moisture, and prevents the skin from drying and scaling. Prevex™ cream is recommended for this purpose, and can help bring relief from eczema. Cliniderm™ and Impruv™ are also effective products that can help moisturize the skin.
3. Winter Lip Tips
Cold weather conditions tend to dry out the delicate skin on your lips. Try to find a lipstick or lip balm that’s formulated with moisturizers, botanical extracts, natural oils or vitamins. Make sure to re-apply regularly. Use a soft toothbrush to gently remove flakes from dry lips.
Apply either a lip balm or lip gloss before going to bed to keep your lips hydrated and softened. Licking your lips actually dries them out and causes more chapping to occur. Drinking plenty of water will help to maintain adequate hydration levels throughout your body, including your lips.
4. Winter Wardrobes and Eczema
You may not realize that overdressing, particularly during the winter months, will make your eczema worse. Wearing too much will cause you to sweat, or wearing clothing made from irritating materials will cause itching and scratching – all of which are common triggers of eczema. Try dressing in layers, so the moment you feel a change in body temperature, you can easily adjust by removing/adding clothing as needed.
Change damp clothing as soon as possible and wear loose-fitting or cotton fabrics next to your skin. Moisturizers are an essential component to successfully managing your sensitive skin, so make sure you maintain adequate hydration levels by drinking enough water and regularly moisturizing throughout the day and immediately after a bath or shower.
5. UV Protection During Winter
UV radiation is generally more intense during summer than in the winter. However, depending on the altitude of the location where you live and play, UV levels during the winter can still cause photodamage to your skin. Winter sports are often performed in the mountains, where the UV levels are frequently higher than in lower lying regions. Additionally, UV radiation is further intensified by reflecting off snow, which explains why people commonly get sunburned from engaging in winter sports.
Also, winter UV exposure is particularly harmful to your eyes. A temporary, but painful, loss of vision and inflammation (snow blindness) of the conjunctiva and cornea can occur, which is caused by exposure of the eyes to bright sunlight and ultraviolet rays. With this in mind, sun protection is an absolute necessity when you are doing winter sports.
Wear high-quality sunglasses (wrap-around styles are best), even on cloudy days. Apply a minimum SPF15 broad-spectrum (UVA + UVB protection) sunscreen on all exposed body parts (e.g., face, neck, hands). Don’t forget your lips – look for lip balms formulated with sun-blocking agents. You can easily incorporate UV protection by using a moisturizer that’s formulated with UV filtering ingredients.
Following these simple tips can help you make it through those rough winter months with healthy and hydrated skin.