Winter Skin Woes and How to Treat Them

Winter weather can be tough on your skin. While your skin takes the brunt of damage from the elements while you are outdoors, Old Man Winter can also do a number on your skin in some unexpected ways, and not just from being outside.

Read further as Dr. Paul Pin shares some of the less obvious ways in which cold winter weather can cause problems for your skin, as well as how to overcome them.

Dry Skin

The most common causes for dry winter skin are direct sunlight and dry windy conditions. Both of these environmental conditions can leach moisture out of your skin by means of evaporation, leaving you with dry skin that looks and feels tight.

However, you may still face problems of dry environmental problems indoors during winter. Most indoor climate-controlled systems tend to blow out hot air when they are set to warm indoor environments, so you may still have the problem of dry skin in your home, workplace, school, or any other buildings that use central climate control systems.

The most obvious solution is to stay hydrated and have a daily moisturizing routine for your skin. Aim for 64 ounces (or eight 8-ounce glasses) of water per day, and use a heavier moisturizer in winter than you would the rest of the year. Moisturizers that come in jars are ideal because they have lower water content than those in pump bottles. The best time to apply your moisturizer is right after your bath or shower.

Flaky Skin

Flaky skin can often be a combination of extremely dry winter temperatures and the use of harsh bath soaps. If your bath soap has too high a pH level, it can damage the outer layer of the skin, leading to flakiness.

To soothe flaky skin, you may need to ditch your soap in favor of a gentler body wash. Look for ones that are exfoliants, as they will gently remove the top layer of damaged skin, but not dry out the next layer of skin underneath.

Don’t run an overly hot bath or shower, as that will pull even more moisture out of your skin. You should also pat your skin dry after your shower or bath, rather than rubbing it. Apply your moisturizer immediately afterward to lock in the moisture remaining on your skin.

Eczema and Psoriasis Flares

Winter weather can be particularly difficult if you suffer from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, particularly if this is the first time you have encountered harsh winter climates. Anything from new skin products, to extra layers of clothing, to new fabrics (such as wool) may trigger a flare. Even stress can set off a flare-up of your condition.

The best way to address these flare-ups in winter is through a combination of the tips mentioned above, as well as:

  • Changing out any scented laundry products for hypoallergenic unscented ones
  • Laundering or dry cleaning (using an eco-friendly process) any new clothing items before wearing them
  • Patch-testing any new skin products on the inside crook of your arm
  • Starting a regular meditation or yoga practice to reduce stress

We tend to think more about seasonal skin care in summer, but it is a good idea to also change your skin care routine for winter. Moisturizing more frequently, staying hydrated, avoiding overly hot and long baths or showers, and reducing stress can go a long way toward keeping your skin glowing throughout winter and on into spring.