Intro to Winter Skin – What is Chronic Dry Winter Skin?

 In Eczema, rosacea and dry skin

Seasonally induced chronic dry skin.

So what is winter skin? Yes, it’s actually a thing. It’s that classic, chronic dry skin that shows up as the weather turns cold. Just when it starts getting cozy, your skin starts getting really uncomfortable. This condition is experienced by a whopping 85% of Canadians. Even for people who don’t normally have dry skin issues. No surprise really, given our climate.

Discomfort, front and centre.

The condition primarily appears on your hands, face and lips as dry, itchy, irritated skin that can turn into cracked skin if left untreated.  Then begins the painful cycle of trying to heal winter skin during the tough months. It can also become a chronic problem as it is difficult to get rid of and keep at bay, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the elements. For some people, this can drag on into spring and summer, long after the season is over.

What’s winter’s problem anyway?

Why is winter so much harder on skin? It comes down to humidity and temperature. Cold, dry weather makes the moisture in your skin evaporate more rapidly, especially if exposed to wind and sun. Your skin’s ability to retain moisture can drop by as much as 25% in these conditions, making it extremely vulnerable to developing uncomfortable winter skin issues. Pair this with the love of outdoor activity like skiing/boarding, skating, touring, sledding…it’s an easy way to find yourself with a painful problem.

Now’s the time to ward off winter skin.

Your skin will need some special treatment to stand up to the effects of winter. Moisturizing, wind & UV protection, hydration & nutrition are the basics to prevent winter skin from developing. Starting now before the real winter sets in will get you ahead of the game and have your skin ready to fight the elements before they sink in.

Here are a five tips for dealing with winter skin:

  • Protect against the elements. Wear clothing that keeps you warm, blocks wind/UV rays, and is soft against your skin. Scratchy fabrics will act like sandpaper and only aggravate the issue. Layer rougher fabrics like wool over top of softer, breathable ones. Sun, wind and cold are all powerful against your skin, protect against all three.

 

  • Creams VS. lotion. Lotions are great but tend to not relieve irritated skin as well as a richer cream-based moisturizer. Re-apply creams more often, especially after washing. Creams that use oils and butters are highly effective, but you may experience a “greasy” feel if you apply often to the palms of your hands. A helpful trick is to apply creams to the backs of your hands and rub the backs together without applying to the palms. Same tip for your face. Apply to affected areas and skip over oily or unaffected areas.

 

  • Don’t lick your lips! This one’s hard, especially when it’s cold. But it dehydrates delicate lip skin and  speeds up cracking of the surrounding skin. Chapstick is everyone’s go to, but did you know that applying a body cream that contains beeswax and calendula (like ours) actually speeds up healing exponentially? You can apply chapstick over top as an additional barrier, but the body cream will save your lips and the surrounding skin!

 

  • Keep your soak short and sweet.  It’s hard to beat a bath when it’s cold outside. While therapeutic, bathing can contribute to drying the skin. Rather than a scalding hot soak, stick to warm water and keep it short. Be sure to pat dry and don’t rub. Moisturize immediately after as your skin will rapidly absorb it after a bath or shower. Using a heavier cream is perfect for irritated dry areas but do skip oilier skin zones, especially on your face to prevent developing blackheads.

 

  • Watch out for “drying” ingredients. Avoid products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, colours and preservatives. Look for products that are made without using these skin-drying ingredients. Choose products that include natural skin soothers like calendula, oatmeal tamanu & almond oil, shea and cocoa butters. They truly help chronic dry skin.
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