With winter fast approaching, we can’t help but start to worry about our skin. The cold weather combined with harsh winds, dry air and a lack of Vitamin D exposure draws moisture away from the skin, resulting in cracks, bleeding, and inflammation. For many people, the dryness and chill of winter can also worsen symptoms of eczema and psoriasis too. This is due to a combination of cold weather and central heating which can further dry the skin out. Skin issues are common in winter, but if you take the necessary skincare steps now, you can prevent them from becoming a major problem. We spoke to consultant dermatologist at Harley Street’s Dermasurge Clinic, Doctor Hiba Injibar, who outlines the winter skin problems you can prevent.
For many people, winter is the season of itchy, dry skin. Colder temperatures cause your hands, face, and body to lose moisture from the air. This can cause “winter rash,” a common skin condition in which redness and itching occur on areas of the body that stay covered for long periods of time. Symptoms include blisters, redness, bumps, sensitivity, swelling, itching, and flaking. You’re more likely to develop winter rash if you already suffer from eczema, rosacea, sensitive skin, dermatitis, and allergies too. Stress and fatigue can also worsen symptoms. If left untreated, without lifestyle changes, the rash can last throughout winter.
Dry skin generally requires more attention and can become damaged easily because it lacks essential collagen and elastin proteins, which the body produces to repair damage to the skin. As the first line of defence, invest in a fragrance-free moisturiser that will keep your skin hydrated and irritation-free. Oatmeal soaps and bathing in a warm bath with milk can also help soothe itchiness. If your winter rash persists, speak to a dermatologist who can prescribe and direct use of topical cortisone creams which can reduce inflammation and redness to the skin. As well as this, try to take 15 minutes out daily for yoga, meditation, journaling or breathing exercises to manage stress and anxieties.
Even when the temperature drops below freezing, the sun’s UV rays remain high. When you hit the slopes or head out for a walk on a bright winter day, most people do not wear proper UV skin protection. Due to this, sunburn is common on the face, chest, and neck. Windburn is the burn-like irritation caused by cold air striking the skin. Windburn is similar to sunburn, and symptoms include tender, red, and itchy skin that can peel off as it begins to heal. To avoid sunburn and windburn, the solution is simple- wear SPF 30 or higher daily! This is essential for maintaining your skins health and happiness all year round, plus will prevent the appearance of age spots.
As the skin loses moisture and become dry, hyperpigmentation can appear more visible on the skin. This is most noticeable on the face, chest and back of the hands and whilst hyperpigmentation isn’t necessarily harmful, it can make otherwise healthy skin look older. As we age, our skin is less likely to repair itself, which is when we notice the after-effects of sun damage and age spots occur. If you would like to reduce hyperpigmentation and its visibility, consult your doctor or dermatologist who can recommend a number of age spot therapies. These include chemical peels which removes the top layers of skin to reveal smoother skin, laser therapies which destroy the melanin-producing cells that cause hyperpigmentation, and prescription medications with retinoids which will gradually fade the appearance over several months.
Many people neglect to treat the skin on their scalp, which is also susceptible to itchiness and dryness. A dry scalp causes small white flakes on your hairline, which can look similar to dandruff. However, dandruff flakes are bigger and tend to look oilier. A dry scalp is triggered by cold weather which causes the skin to lose moisture. Shampooing your hair too often with harsh products and hot water can cause dryness and itchiness. Turn down the temperature and try to keep your showers short so you do not disrupt the skins barrier. Switch to a gentle shampoo, letting your hair air-dry indoors afterwards. Avoid hair products which contain ingredients that will dry out the scalp, such as alcohol and fragrances. Finally, always wear a cotton beanie hat when outside for protection against the cold weather.
Redness occurs because our bodies are trying to keep warm, bringing blood close to the surface of our skin and making tiny blood vessels expand. These blood capillaries don’t close as quickly when we age, which leads to redness on the face that lingers. Furthermore, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are peak drinking seasons. When your body isn’t able to fully digest alcohol, this can trigger more redness and flushed skin. When you go outside, wrap a cotton scarf around the face as a protective barrier against harsh, irritating winds. Avoid spicy foods, too much cheese, caffeine, and alcohol as this can cause flare ups to the skin. Look for SPF 30+ sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are the ingredients that are least irritating to the skin. Don’t rub or massage the face, as this will only exacerbate redness to the skin. If you suspect you have rosacea, visit an accredited dermatology clinic to easily treat redness and any changes to the skin.
Chafing occurs when your skin repeatedly comes into contact with another material, clothing, or excess skin. It is most common in-between your thighs and underneath your breasts. Chafing occurs due to the friction and pressure of this repetitive rubbing, which can cause damage to the dermis, leaving it exposed and irritated. This can lead to itchiness and sore skin. Chafing can also occur during winter, when the air is dry. If you have chafed skin, apply a chafing cream or fragrance-free moisturiser to help your skin heal fast. Ensure to keep the are clean to reduce the risk of bacterial infection, patting the skin dry to avoid further irritation.
When the weather gets colder, skin tends to become paler, which can make eye bags and dark circles stand out more. Eye bags happen because the skin underneath your eyes is very thin, allowing blood vessels to show through, resulting in a darker appearance. Darker skin tones typically have very thin lower eyelid skin, more pigment and more melanin which can lead to hyperpigmentation under the eyes becoming more visible. Add on lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, stress and too much screen time, and dark circles can become prominent. A retinol eye serum is great for preventing dark circles and hyperpigmentation by stabilising melanocytes. Cold compresses can also shrink the dilated blood vessels to reduce the appearance of dark circles. Alongside good quality sleep and hydration, check your diet for any deficiencies as dark circles have been linked to Vitamin b12 and Vitamin E deficiencies. Sculptra filler will hide any purple colour in your dark circles if you have leaky blood vessels and will reduce the appearance of fine lines.