The winter months can be tough on skin. While most people think the sun exposure in the summertime makes it the hardest season for skin care, winter can be just as difficult for our skin cells. According to Dr. Julie S. Green from U.S. Dermatology Partners in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, “In cold, dry winter climates, skin is prone to become itchy and flaky.” Without an effective winter skin care routine in place, you may experience significant discomfort and potential damage throughout the season. Keep reading to learn more about how winter weather may impact your skin and how you can adjust your skin care routine to combat the potentially adverse effects of the cold, dry winter months.
Winter Skin Care: How the Cold Impacts Your Skin
Before we share some of our professional tips for maintaining healthy skin during the winter months, let’s look at how the changes in temperature and humidity can negatively impact your skin’s health. The main cause for concern during winter months is dryness. Cold weather usually means decreased humidity. Additionally, windy winter weather and use of heaters will further strip the skin of moisture. Dry skin can feel scaly and look ashy. The dry skin is likely to feel chapped or tight, and it may even crack open and bleed. Those who suffer from chronic skin conditions like eczema are much more likely to deal with flare-ups during winter months. The main goal of skin care during winter months is to avoid stripping moisture from the skin and take steps to alleviate dryness. Keep reading to learn more about how Dr. Green helps her patients keep skin soft and moisturized throughout the winter months.
Turn Down the Heat
According to Dr. Green, the first step is adjusting your bathing routine. She said, “I recommend turning down the heat in the shower or bath, as hot water can worsen dry skin.” You should also limit your bath and shower time as prolonged exposure will further dry out your skin. Instead, take short showers or baths with warm rather than very hot water. You may also want to apply a moisturizer immediately following your shower or bath.
Use a Thick, Cream-Based Moisturizer
During winter months, Dr. Green recommends, “Using a thick, bland, cream-based moisturizer at least twice per day over the entire body. I prefer creams that come in jars rather than pump bottles as these are usually thicker and more effective.” You should apply a moisturizer immediately following your shower or bath and at least one other time during the day. You should also keep a moisturizer with you and apply to specific dry spots as necessary throughout the day. If you start to experience itching or notice cracking and dryness, apply moisturizer to the affected area right away.
Use a Humidifier
Constantly running heaters during the cold, winter months can strip moisture from the skin. Dr. Green suggests patients, “Consider installing a furnace humidifier or putting a humidifier in their bedrooms.” These humidifiers can replace some of the moisture that the heater is stripping from your home.
Stay Covered Up
Exposure to wind, snow, and ice can also negatively impact your skin during the winter months. Be sure to protect your skin by wearing appropriate clothing and accessories, including gloves, hats, scarves, and coats. If you’re going to be outdoors for long periods of time, make sure you have the appropriate protective gear. For winter weather sports like skiing and snowboarding, make sure you wear goggles and other barrier clothing to protect your skin from chapping and windburn. If your clothing ever becomes saturated with water from melting snow or ice, you should do your utmost to find warm, dry clothing as soon as possible. This is especially important for clothing covering your extremities (head, hands, and feet).
Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration is not a summer-only concern. Drink plenty of water. While drinking water won’t immediately add moisture to the skin, regularly consuming plenty of water will help to keep skin cells hydrated. We recommend drinking at least 64 fluid ounces of water each day or about 8 glasses.
Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen
Dr. Green encourages her patients to, “Remember that sun exposure still occurs during the winter months, and skin that is exposed to the sun, even in limited amounts, should be protected with sunscreen on a daily basis.” There are many facial moisturizers that contain sunscreens. Applying these products liberally to your face and neck can help to streamline your daily skin care routine during the winter. Conversely, there are many sunscreens that can serve as an effective daily moisturizer. Your dermatologist can help by recommending specific products that will work best for your skin type, but finding products with adequate SPF, usually SPF 30 or higher, is key.
Protect Your Lips
During the colder part of the year, our lips are just as likely to become dry and chapped as the rest of the body. To protect your lips, apply a liberal coat of balm with sunscreen built in. You can also use vitamin E gel to soothe and heal extremely dry and cracked lips. Avoid lip balms with alcohol listed as their first ingredient. This means that a drying agent makes up the largest part of the lip balm’s composition. Instead, look for ingredients like dimethicone, which is a material used to seal moisture into the skin. Shea and cocoa butters are also common ingredients that can soothe and moisturize dry lips. Aloe vera and Vitamin E are often used to heal damaged skin and relieve dryness.
Visit a U.S. Dermatology Partners Location Near You
Dr. Green and the team at U.S. Dermatology Partners in Lee’s Summit, Missouri would love to help you prepare for healthy skin this winter. Don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule an appointment with Dr. Green and her team. If you don’t live near Lee’s Summit, U.S. Dermatology Partners still has your skincare covered. We have dermatology practices across the U.S., so no matter where you live, there’s an office near you. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment in one of our local dermatology practices, it’s quick and easy to begin. Simply fill out our online form by answering a few quick questions. One of our team members will contact you to personally schedule an appointment for you to visit one of our dermatology practices.