‘Old Man Winter’ Won’t Get The Best of Our Skin!
For many of us the cold days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to our cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to our skin. For some, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling. The skin can become so dry that it results in flaking, cracking and even eczema, in which the skin becomes inflamed and can cause significant itching and discomfort.
To overcome ‘Old Man Winter’ follow these top 10 winter skin care tips for boosting your winter skin care regimen, so that your skin stays moist and healthy throughout the winter months.
- Seek Professional Advice – If you go to your local drugstore, it will be hard to find a salesperson who can give you good sound advice on proper skin care. That’s why going to a dermatology provider even once is a good investment. They can evaluate your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on skin care products that would be best for you.
- Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize – You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine for spring and summer. But as the weather changes, so too, should your skin care routine. Find an unscented ‘ointment’ or ‘cream’ based moisturizer that will help create a protective layer on your skin that retains moisture better than a light lotion.
- Slather on Sunscreen – Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. The winter sun, combined with the glare from snow, can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face, as well as, your ears, neck and hands, if they are exposed. Make sure to apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside. Also, reapply frequently (every 1-2 hours) if you stay outside for a long time.
- Give Your Hands a Helping Hand – The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has few oil glands. That means it’s much harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry, windy weather. This can lead to itchiness, redness, and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside and protect your hands even further by applying a moisturizer.
- Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks – Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or may even flare eczema.
- Hook Up Your Humidifier – Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot air, which depletes moisture throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers put moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out.
- Hydrate for Your Health – Drinking water is good for your overall health and the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids.
- Grease Up Your Feet – Those minty, good-smelling foot lotions are lovely in hot summer months, but during winter, your feet need intensive moisturizing. Find moisturizers that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. Using a moisturizer that also contains an exfoliant, to slough off the dead skin, helps moisturizers to sink in faster and deeper.
- Pace the Peels – If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, scrubs, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find gentle liquid cleansers or mild foaming cleansers, toners with no alcohol, and masks that are ‘deeply hydrating’, rather than clay-based, which draw moisture out of the face.
- Ban Superhot Baths and Showers – Soaking in a hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. However, the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in our skin, which leads to a loss of moisture. Instead, use warm water and stay in the water a shorter amount of time. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy. Also, remember to apply a moisturizer shortly after exiting a bath or shower to help prevent moisture loss.
Hopefully these tips will help you overcome ‘Old Man Winter’. If these tips don’t work please consider making an appointment with your dermatology provider. You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin or you may have a condition that isn’t simply dry skin and requires a different treatment.
By: Jacki Kment, MPAS, PA-C
*Adapted from 10 Winter Skin Care Tips: Banish Dry Skin by Susan Davis