With temperatures in the area continuing to fall, many people have likely begun to notice one of the many side-effects of winter: dry, scaly, itchy skin. Because humidity levels drop as the air gets colder, your complexion quickly loses moisture, causing discomfort and exacerbating other skin problems. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you pay your skin extra attention during the winter months. To keep your skin healthy this season, try out the easy tips below.
Avoid Hot Showers
While a hot shower may seem like the perfect way to start a cold winter morning, hot water strips natural oils from your skin more quickly than other temperatures. While you don’t have to shiver under a stream of cold water, you should try to shower with warm water and avoid taking longer than 10 minutes to keep your skin from drying out.
Switch to Gentler Skin Care Products
If the cleansers and soaps you use during the rest of the year contain alcohol or alpha-hydroxy acid, put them away: these ingredients are harsh and can irritate your skin. If you are one of the 40-50 million people in the United States who have acne, you should be especially careful, as acne treatment products can be very strident and dehydrating, making them a bad choice for the winter months. To continue caring for your skin, talk to your dermatologist about adapting your skincare regimen for the cold weather.
Creams and ointments are usually considered a better option during the winter than lotions, as they are more hydrating and less likely to irritate your skin. However, both of these products need to be used correctly to avoid causing further problems: for example, aqueous creams should only be used as a soap substitute, as leaving it on can aggravate your skin. Non-aqueous creams, on the other hand, should be applied to your skin regularly, while ointments are thicker and can be used less frequently. Look for products with soothing ingredients, such as olive or jojoba oil, lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, or petrolatum. Try to apply your product immediately after showering to replace lost moisture.
Protect Your Hands and Lips
Because your face and hands are more likely to be exposed to the cold, they need more protection. Wear lip balm and gloves when you go outside, and treat your hands with a cream or ointment to prevent dry, scaly skin.
Use a Humidifier
If your skin is still dry in spite of the steps above, your indoor conditions may be to blame: central heating systems, fireplaces and space heaters can also dehydrate your complexion. Using a humidifier will add moisture back into the air without decreasing the warmth and comfort of your home.
Wearing layers in the winter will not only keep you warm, but can also prevent damage and itching. Because some of the warmest fabrics, such as wool, can irritate skin, you’ll likely find yourself scratching constantly if you only wear a sweater. By wearing a cotton or silk t-shirt underneath, you will be more comfortable over the course of your day.
Caring for your skin properly during the cold winter months is the best way to prevent the itchy, scaly dry skin so many people experience during this season. However, if your skin is still having problems adjusting to the cold, or if you have any questions about cold weather skin care, you should consider talking to a professional. Look for a doctor who specializes in dermatology to discuss the condition of your skin and learn how best to care for your unique complexion.