Tuesday 5th November
Your skin can suffer in winter as well as summer. These self-help solutions will help you beat dryness caused by the winter weather and leave your skin feeling soft and soothed.
No matter how well you wrap up, cold winds and plummeting temperatures strip your skin of its natural moisture, which can leave it feeling dry, flaky and sore.
“You probably don’t realise how often you flit between hot and cold environments during the winter months – from warm buses to the freezing outdoors, then into centrally-heated homes or offices,” says Nina Goad at the British Association of Dermatologists. “This causes your blood vessels to rapidly change size, which can leave you looking flushed and your skin feeling taut and weather beaten.”
To add to this, conditions like eczema and psoriasis (LINK to Psoriasis article) often flare up in the colder months making our skin desperate for some TLC. As the body’s largest organ it not only protects you from the environment, but also regulates body temperature and helps fight off infection, so it is important to look after your skin.
Your winter skin survival guide
There are two simple steps that can make all the difference to dry skin: first, avoid products that dry out your skin in the first place,” says Nina. “Switch from cosmetics which contain alcohol to creamy cleansers and swap soaps and bath products containing sodium lauryl sulphate, which can make the problem worse, to products designed for dry, sensitive skin.”
“Secondly, use a good moisturiser every day, especially after washing – it’s your best weapon against dry skin,” explains Nina. “Remember you don’t need to spend a fortune to get an effective one.”
Slap on the sunscreen – it isn’t just for summer. Winter sun can still damage your skin – your hands and face being affected whilst the rest of you is covered up.
Take a look at what you wear. Wool may be good for keeping warm, but worn next to the skin it can be scratchy and exacerbate dryness. Try several thin cotton layers instead – this should trap in heat to help you keep warm without irritating your skin.
After a long day out in the cold, you might just fancy a long hot bath to warm you back up again. However, this will just strip more of your skin’s natural oils, so opt for a warm shower instead. Pat yourself dry with a towel rather than rubbing, and remember to moisturise.
“In general, diet doesn’t lead to visible changes in the skin, unless you have an allergy or intolerance to a certain food,” says Nina. “However, eating a healthy diet and making sure you drink plenty of water each day will help keep your body healthy in general, which in turn supports your skin.”
Reduce your carbon footprint and help your skin in the process by turning down the heating by a couple of degrees. Central heating dries the atmosphere and reduces humidity, which in turns dries the skin. Invest in a humidifier or put a bowl of water next to radiators to help put moisture back into the air.
If the problem doesn’t clear up, or is interfering with your daily life, Nina recommends seeing your GP. Eczema affects about one in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK, and two per cent of the population have psoriasis. “Your doctor will be able to diagnose if you have dry skin condition like eczema and give expert advice on the best treatment to control your symptoms,” Nina says.
The British Association of Dermatologists has a number of patient information leaflets available to download in pdf format.