Winter has arrived! As temperatures drop, men and women are noticing dryer, more irritated skin. Cold weather and low humidity levels result in dryer air. This dry air drains moisture away from the skin causing dry, chapped and cracked skin.
Skincare in the winter is especially important. Without proper care, dry skin can lead to cracking and bleeding which worsens the colder it becomes. In addition to the common chapping and drying of skin, several skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema require extra care during the winter.
“A very common skin issue during the dry winter months is atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema. In order to prevent flares and to help treat them it’s important to apply a cream, lotion or ointment to the skin directly after showering. This seals the moisture into skin. Avoid long hot showers as this can dry out the skin. It’s better to take shot, warm showers. If it gets severe see your Primary Care or Dermatology provider for prescriptive treatment” Stephanie Gebara, MPAS, PA-C
Beverly Hills Dermatologist, Dr. Onyeka Obioha also weighed in on this skin condition. “During the winter, I have a lot of patients that present with eczema exacerbations and dry skin due to the change in weather. It’s important that patients know that simple changes in their bathing regimen can make a huge difference. Moisturizing is essential! Ditch the lotion and pick up a cream with ceramides, such as Cetaphil or CeraVe. Creams are oil-based and restore the skin barrier better than lotions which are water-based. Your cream should be applied immediately after showering while the skin is still damp. Additionally, I recommend using a hydrating fragrance-free soap, such as Dove, without using a loofah or washcloth, which can prevent your skin from retaining hydration.
For glowing, hydrated skin all winter long, check out the tips below!
It’s no secret that water is refreshing and is quite literally “the fountain of youth.” Though we’re quick to grab coffee, cocoa and tea to warm up in the winter – don’t forget to the H20! Consider adding hydrating fruits and vegetables to your water such as lemon and cucumbers can make it that much more refreshing!
Dr. Obioha said it best, “Moisturizing is essential!” As mentioned above, “Ditch the lotion and pick up a cream with ceramides, such as Cetaphil or CeraVe. Creams are oil-based and restore the skin barrier better than lotions which are water-based. Your cream should be applied immediately after showering while the skin is still damp.”
3. Don’t forget your lips
Cracked lips are a “no” under the mistletoe. Be sure to take care of your lips during the winter as they are often the first to show signs of dehydration and wear from harsh winter weather. Be sure to use a lip moisturizer with SPF and give lip repairs a try!
4. Give yourself a hand
During cold and flu season, we are all washing our hands more than usual, especially healthcare workers, new parents and those who work with children. The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it’s harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. Be sure to give your hands a little extra TLC in the winter by using hand repairing moisturizes and keeping moisturizing lotions in your purse and at your desk.
The use of a humidifier can combat some of the drying effects in your home from your heating system. If you’re not able to afford a humidifier, a bucket of water works well! As the water evaporates from the bucket, the room air has moisture added into it.
6. Add SPF
A common skincare myth is that sunscreen is only for the summer, but the truth is that UV rays in the winter can be just as damaging as the summer sun. Be sure to make sure your face and lip moisturizers have SFP in them. Also, consider wearing gloves to protect your hands from additional chapping. Men with short or no hair – wear a hat to protect your scalp! Insider Skincare tip: Use sunscreen on your hands 20 minutes before getting your gel manicure to protect your hands from the UV light dryers often used in nail salons.
7. Skip the hot shower
As aforementioned, opt for short lukewarm showers over hot showers. Intense heat from very hot showers can breakdown the lipid barriers of the skin, leading to moisture loss.
I should have put this one first. Exfoliating is the removal of dead cells on the skin’s surface through mechanical and chemical means or a combination of both methods. Exfoliation is necessary to effectively remove the dead skin cells evenly so that an even skin tone can be achieved. In turn, you will enjoy the benefits of a fresh, glowing complexion. The key here is to be gentle, over exfoliating can have a negative impact on the skin. A DIY hand scrub can be as easy as mixing coconut oil and sugar in a bowl, rubbing on your hands for 60-120 seconds and rinsing with lukewarm water. I’ve also linked my favorite here.
9. Eat Hydrating Foods
Water doesn’t have to do all of the work. Incorporate hydrating/watery foods such as cucumbers, lettuce, celery, watermelon, oranges, apples, kiwi, cantaloupe and zucchini into your diet so that you can hydrate form the inside out.
10. See a Specialist
Some skin conditions require expert care to be properly managed. For optimal skincare during the winter, check-in with your Primary Care or Dermatology provider to discuss your specific skin concerns. In addition to the above tips, healthcare providers can prescribe medications and regimens to ensure healthy skin all winter long.
Monica Elston is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner in a women’s health practice in Washington, DC. Prior to becoming a Nurse Practitioner, she worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse. She believes in providing the best care so that women can live their best lives possible. She loves all things skincare and travel and enjoys guiding and educating new nurses and nurse practitioners. (IG: @givememoremonica)