Winter is a season that many of us look forward to, with snowball fights, hot cocoa, and winter fashion trends being some of the highlights.
However, the winter season can also take a toll on our skin.
The combination of cold outdoor air and heated indoor air can lead to a variety of skin issues, from dry, itchy skin to winter skin rash and more.
If you’re wondering why your skin feels itchy in winter and how to protect your skin, read on.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at some common winter skin issues and what you can do to avoid them.
Does Winter Cause Skin Problems?
With winter just around the corner, you might be wondering if it’s just your skin or do the cold temperatures actually cause skin problems. This chilly season comes with its own set of skin conditions mentioned below:
A chronic autoimmune condition that causes rapid cell growth on the skin, resulting in red, scaly patches. Psoriasis can flare up more during winter because there is less sunlight exposure.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, it’s a condition that causes itchy and inflamed skin. Eczema’s cause is unknown, but it’s likely a combination of genetics, environmental triggers, and an overactive immune system. The dry air in winter triggers eczema flare-ups as it dries out the skin, aggravating it even more.
Cold, windy weather robs the skin of moisture and natural oils, causing this condition. As a result, the skin gets red, sore, and flaky. It’s similar to sunburn, but not the same. Skin feels dry and tight, and sometimes, it may even peel. The sun’s UV rays can also cause windburn, so wear sunscreen.
Dry, itchy skin
When it’s winter, the humidity lowers, and the air gets drier. This dry air saps your skin’s moisture, leading to dry, red spots on the face in winter. As a result, the face’s skin gets more sensitive, thinner, and more likely to dry out.
When the temperature drops, the air becomes dry and sucks the moisture out of anything it comes into contact with – including your precious pout. Plus, the skin on your lips is much thinner and more delicate than the rest of your face, making it more susceptible to damage.
A painful and unsightly winter skin problem. When the skin around the heel area is exposed to cold, dry air, walking barefoot, soaking in hot water too often, and wearing open-back shoes or sandals, it becomes thick, hard, and cracks. People with this condition typically spend a lot of time standing or walking, causing pressure and friction on the feet.
Rough patches on elbows, knees, and heels
These pesky patches can be extremely frustrating, often making you feel self-conscious about your skin. So, what causes them? Well, it turns out that the cold winter weather can dry out your skin, leaving it rough and flaky. Sitting in front of heaters can also zap the moisture out of the air, making the problem even worse.
Dandruff can also sneak up during winter when the scalp becomes dry due to the lack of moisture in the air—the dry skin of the scalp flakes off, leading to white flakes of dandruff.
Cold temperatures can aggravate the condition, causing hives, welts, or itching on the skin. This skin disease during winter happens due to the sun’s rays not being enough to protect the skin, rupturing the skin cells, and causing allergies.
Cold urticaria, like chilblains, is another medical condition where the skin gets red, swollen, and itchy when exposed to cold, damp weather. Typically, the condition appears as red or purple bumps on the fingers, toes, ears, or nose. Smokers or those with poor circulation are more likely to get it.
Causes of Winter Skin Problems
Low Temperature and Humidity
During winter, there’s a drop in air temperature, while humidity levels drop due to less moisture in the air. Changes in temperature and humidity can cause the skin to become dry and flaky, making it more likely to develop debilitating skin conditions.
Irritants from Clothing and Skin Care Products
Putting on certain fabrics, like wool, which is abrasive, can irritate your skin and cause eczema or psoriasis. Similarly, harsh skin care products, fragranced cosmetics, bad diet, and stress can aggravate existing conditions.
UV Radiation from Sun Exposure
Even though the sun’s rays are not as intense in winter as they are during other seasons, they can still be damaging to the skin. UV radiation from direct exposure to the sun can contribute to an increased risk of developing skin conditions, particularly if you live in a climate with less sunlight.
Ways to Prevent Skin Disorders in Winter
Moisturize Your Skin Regularly
Moisturizing the skin, particularly in winter, helps prevent skin sores. A moisturizer prevents the skin from drying out due to cold temperatures and low humidity. Make sure your moisturizer contains natural ingredients such as aloe vera, shea butter, and cocoa butter, and avoid products with alcohol or fragrances.
Dehydrated skin loses vital moisture, becomes thin, more fragile, and more prone to irritation. By keeping your skin hydrated, you can keep it plump, soft, and resistant to damage. So, fill up your water bottle, pop on the kettle for some warming herbal tea and get your juicer out for a refreshing boost of vitamins and minerals – it will be worth it!
Dress for the Weather
Wear warm and protective clothing, like coats, hats, scarves, and gloves, to protect your skin from irritants. Besides, be mindful of the fabrics you’re wearing, as some materials, like wool, have a coarser texture that could irritate your skin. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that wick away moisture.
Avoid Hot Water and Harsh Soaps
Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. When you wash and shower, use lukewarm water and gentle soap without harsh chemicals. Try mild soaps without dyes or fragrances, which are pH balanced.
Wear Sunscreen for Protection Against UV Rays
Sunscreen should be worn year-round, including during the winter when UV rays can still reach the skin and cause damage. Applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 can help protect the epidermis from damage caused by UV radiation. Look for sunscreens that are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores or cause further irritation.
Use a humidifier
Not only can a humidifier improve your skin’s health, but it can also help with other cold weather issues such as chapped lips, dry coughs, and sinus congestion. Put your humidifier in the room where you spend the most time and keep it clean to avoid bacteria buildup.
Soothe Your Winter Skin with a Creative Distraction
When the cold weather causes skin conditions to flare up, scratching can only worsen things. So why not try a more creative solution? Designing Facebook reels with VistaCreate can distract you from the itch while creating something beautiful for others.
Creating has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood, as well as improve mental health. By channeling your focus into a creative project, you soothe your skin and give your mind a break from discomfort.
With endless possibilities for design, you can let your imagination run wild and create something truly unique. So, the next time you feel the urge to scratch, reach for your art supplies instead and get lost in the creative process. Your skin and mind will thank you.
Ways to Treat Winter Skin Problems
Apply Prescription Medications as Directed
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully if you have been prescribed any medications. These medications may include topical steroids or creams to reduce inflammation and itching or oral medications to treat more severe cases. Before taking anything, get familiar with the potential side effects of the drug and talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.
Use a Thermal Blanket to Increase Humidity
Using a thermal blanket to increase the humidity in your home can relieve dry skin-related symptoms. Doing so can help improve the effectiveness of topical medications and reduce redness and itchiness associated with these conditions.
Take Warm Showers with Gentle Soaps
While seemingly far-fetched, shorter and warmer showers can help prevent dryness and inflammation caused by prolonged hot bath sessions. Also, use a gentle soap-free of harsh chemicals or fragrances, as these may worsen skin sores. Apply moisturizer immediately after taking a shower or bath—it’ll help rehydrate and create a protective layer of the skin that keeps it supple.
Use a facial oil
Facial oils boost the hydration of your skin, helping you to combat cold weather, indoor heating, and harsh winds. Oils like jojoba, rosehip, and argan are all great options as they are light and easily absorbed into the skin, and they contain a range of vitamins and antioxidants that can help to soothe and nourish dry or damaged skin. Simply apply a few drops to your fingertips and massage gently into your skin, focusing on any dry or problem areas.
All in all, winter skin problems are common but preventable. By staying hydrated and regularly moisturizing your skin, you can avoid dry, itchy skin, chapped lips, and cracked heels. Psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff may require more specialized treatment, so consult a dermatologist. Also, protect your skin from UV rays and harsh temps. With a little prevention, like wearing protective clothing and using a good moisturizer, your skin will stay supple all winter long.