Submitted by Debbie Sweet
Even though we’re exposing less of it, winter is super-tough on our skin. Winter weather, heat and heavy clothing can all contribute to itchy, damaged skin during the winter months. These six tips will help you save face this winter.
Get a humidifier – The hotter the air in a home, the more it wicks moisture away. A humidifier can help replace the moisture that’s lost due to central heating. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and can be found at discount department stores and drug stores. Run them in areas where you spend the most time, like your office, living room and bedroom.
Check your cleanser – Many regular soaps, including bar soaps, are much harsher on your skin, and the damage can appear even worse in the winter. Choose a skin cleanser with built-in moisturizer or use baby oil on your skin right after you use your soap to replenish the oils the soap washes away.
Layer your clothing – A wool weather might seem cozy, but it could make your skin itchy and irritated. Instead, wear breathable materials like cotton and jersey knit against your skin and layer heavier materials, like wool, on top. This will help you stay warm and protect your skin.
Moisturize – Cracked lips, chaffed hands and dry skin patches are common during the winter, so it’s important to moisturize your skin regularly. As soon as you step out of the shower and blot dry your skin, apply a thick cream moisturizer all over. Apply moisturizer after you wash your hands or whenever your skin feels tight. If you use a regular lotion during the summer, put it away until warmer weather comes your way, and instead rely on ointments and creams. Some ingredients to look out for in your moisturizers are petrolatum, mineral oil and glycerin. For brittle nails, coat them with Vaseline and keep them short and clean.
Change wet clothes quickly – Wetness on your skin for a long period of time can lead to itchiness and irritation, so change out of wet hats, coats and scarves as soon as you can. Winter weather can be unpredictable, so keep extra dry clothes stashed in your office or car in case of an emergency. When you peel off the wet clothes, use a dry towel to blot – not rub – your skin dry. Rubbing can further irritate your already itchy skin.
Eat right – Eating right is important all year, but eating certain foods during the winter months can help keep your skin looking great. For instance, grapefruit, tomatoes and carrots contain lycopene, which can help your skin stay smooth. Tuna, a great source of omega-3, can keep your skin looking youthful, bright and firm (and as a bonus, is good for your heart!) Foods high in vitamin C, like broccoli, can fight wrinkles and age-related dryness, as well as soak up free radicals that can damage your skin’s collagen. Another important element is water – drink plenty of it, especially during the winter months when the heat from indoor central air is depleting the moisture in your body.
Use sunscreen – It may seem like an unusual tip, but sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. Winter sun is just as damaging as the summer sun, and can be even more damaging when reflecting off snow. Use a makeup or moisturizer with sunscreen included or use sunscreen on its own. If you ski, make sure to use a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation.
About the Author: Debbie Sweet reviews Chicago dermatologists. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Pilates and organic gardening.