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Our Skin’s Winter Survival Kit

Cold, dry air can easily irritate your skin. Luckily, there are many ways to combat the causes of dry winter skin and keep your skin smooth and supple all season long.

What Happens to Your Skin in the Winter?

Filaggrin is one of the most essential proteins in our skin for maintaining barrier function and natural moisturizing factors. However, it decreases during the winter and with age and hormonal changes. These factors, combined with dry cold weather, low humidity, and indoor heating dehydrating our skin, lead to dryness and worsening skin conditions for many people.

5 Common Winter Skin Conditions

Getting on top of skin moisture is critical to maintaining skin health during the winter. Between the cold air, harsh winter winds, and dry indoor heat, it is easy for skin conditions to flare up. Here are five common winter skin issues that may worsen during the wintertime.

1. Eczema

Eczema is a common skin condition affecting over 31 million Americans. Inflamed, red, itchy patches of skin characterize it: immune system activation, environmental triggers, and stress cause eczema. Cold, dry weather can trigger eczema flare-ups in winter.

2. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a long-term disease that causes red, itchy, scaly patches on the skin. These flare up for a few weeks or months before subsiding or going into remission. The most common sites for psoriasis are the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. While there is no cure for psoriasis, your dermatologist can devise a treatment plan to help you manage your condition. Cold weather and decreased sunlight can cause psoriasis to worsen in the winter.

3. Rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes blushing or flushing in the face and eyes. It may flare up for weeks or months before subsiding or going into remission. If left untreated, rosacea can permanently damage the skin and eyes. Cold weather is a common trigger for many.

4. Keratosis Pilaris 

Keratosis Pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps on the skin. These skin-colored or reddish bumps can appear on your arms, legs, or buttocks. These are often more pronounced when the skin is dry, such as during wintertime.

5. Raynaud’s Disease

Up to 5 to 10% of Americans suffer from Raynaud’s disease, which occurs when blood vessels in the fingers and toes spasm in response to cold, stress, or emotional upset. This leads to decreased blood flow, causing the fingers or toes to turn cold, white, and numb, which can be bothersome during the winter.

Importance of Winter Skin Care

You do not need a significant overhaul of your skin care regimen during the colder months. You should, however, focus on more hydrating varieties of your products and reduce irritating effects to combat the dryness that winter inevitably brings.

1. Moisturize Frequently

Thick moisturizers containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and petrolatum help retain and seal moisture within your skin. Choose thicker creams over lighter lotions — the thicker the moisturizer, the better. A few favorites are CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, and good old-fashioned Vaseline.

2. Switch to Hydrating Cleansers

During the winter months, avoid harsh cleansers on the face. As a rule of thumb, any cleanser that leaves you ‘squeaky clean’ strips the skin of natural moisture. Use gentle, hydrating, fragrance-free cleansers for daily cleansing and to remove makeup. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, BMD Gentle Cleanse, and LaRoche Posay Toleraine Hydrating Cleanser are great options to keep skin hydrated yet clean.

3. Even acne-prone skin May Need TLC During the Winter

Use hydrating, oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizers daily and on top of topical acne medications to help combat excess dryness and peeling. CeraVe Facial Moisturizer, Neutrogena HydroBoost Moisturizer, and BMD Moisture Lux moisturizer are great options for acne-prone skin.

4. Limit Hot Showers

Winter weather brings the desire for long hot showers, but hot water will further dry out your skin. Limit showers to 15 minutes, and use lukewarm water to avoid irritating your skin.

5. Avoid Harsh Scrubs and Scented Products

Loofahs, bath mitts, and scrubs can irritate dry skin and lead to eczema flares. Avoid these if you have a history of eczema or dry skin. Use unscented soaps and body washes such as Dove Unscented Bar Soap, Cetaphil Cleanser, or Aveeno Body Wash.

6. Exfoliate for Smooth, Supple Skin

Dry skin will stay dry without light exfoliation. Avoid harsh scrubs and opt for moisturizers with lactic acid, such as AmLactin or CeraVe SA, which acts as an exfoliant and a humectant, sloughing off dead skin and drawing moisture into the skin simultaneously.

7. You Still Need Sunscreen!

Even though the sun’s UVB rays are not as strong in the winter, UVA rays are still present and can age you. Not to mention, the reflection of the sun’s rays through the clouds and off the snow during shoveling or skiing can cause you to get severe sunburn, even if it’s not sunny outside. Remember to wear SPF 30+ every morning and reapply if doing any outdoor winter activities. Use a daily moisturizer with built-in sunscreen every morning, such as EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen, LaRoche Posay Mineral Sunscreen Fluid, CeraVe AM Moisturizer with sunscreen, or Neutrogena Daily Defense Moisturizer with SPF.

8. Limit Alcohol Intake and Hydrate Well

Alcohol during the holidays can dehydrate you. Furthermore, limit these beverages and hydrate well with water throughout the day. At night, humidifiers can help regulate the moisture levels in your home and further combat dryness, promoting a dewy complexion.

9. Carry Lip Balm

Definitely use a hydrating lip balm with SPF daily to seal in moisture and prevent dry lips from getting chapped and sunburned during winter fun. Vaseline Lip Therapy, Elta MD Lip Balm with SPF, or Coola Liplux Lip Balm with SPF are great options.

Cold, dry air can easily irritate your skin. Luckily, our tips can help you combat the causes of dry winter skin and keep your skin smooth and supple all season long.



Tomah Health