The first winds of winter are already here, and no doubt you can already see the difference in your skin. The combination of low humidity and low temperatures can cause dry, cracked skin.
It is important to pay attention to any changes in your skin, as it may indicate a skin condition, in addition to the damage caused by the cold weather. However, there are ways to improve your skin health in winter, and following them will ensure your glowing summer skin survives well into those cold, darker months.
1. Choose warm clothing
Cold weather protection starts with wearing the right clothing. Invest in a high quality hat, scarf and pair of gloves and use them! Don’t just keep them stored in the cupboard and brave the weather… your skin will thank you. For particularly cold weather, buying thermal layers is also a good idea, since only one layer of clothing on your legs is often not enough to keep you warm in the depths os winter. Sun protection is just as important: winter sun has the potential to be just as damaging as summer sun, so take it seriously and cover any exposed areas.
2. Go Lukewarm
Despite the temptation, a long hot shower is not the best decision for your skin health in winter. A hot shower can make your skin feel itchy and dry. A much better option is going for a brief, lukewarm shower. Washing in lukewarm water is much less harsh for your skin, and is less likely to leave you with uncomfortable itchy skin.
3. Hydrate Yourself
It can be easy to forget to drink enough fluids in winter, especially when cold water seems so much less appealing than a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. Yet skin health and hydration depends on how much water you consume, so try to keep your liquids up. Warm water and lemon might be a nice winter alternative, or using a large water bottle that shows how much you’ve drunk in a day could also be helpful.
4. Eat Well
And no, not in the ‘oh well it’s Christmas so I can gorge on food’ way! Eating a nutritionally balanced diet is always important, and can be really beneficial to your skin health in winter. Healthy fats filled with omega 3 & 6 such as nuts, olive oil, flax and avocados as well as foods rich in vitamins and lots of leafy greens are always a good idea.
Find a moisturiser that works for you and use it liberally, especially after washing. Applying moisturiser to damp skin seals the moisture into the skin. Keep a hand cream in your bag for using when you’re out and about, as well as some sort of lip protection. Moisturise before bed to allow your skin to really benefit from the lotion without regular washing or exposure. Wearing cotton gloves and socks at night after applying may be even more effective.
Be Aware of Skin Conditions
In the winter months it can be easy to ignore red or itchy patches of skin, putting it down to the cold weather, even if they look strange or inflamed. Here is a list of some common skin conditions which could be confused with dry or itchy winter skin.
Atopic Eczema is the most common form of eczema, making the skin itchy, red, dry and cracked. It is usually a lifelong condition, although some children do grow out of it. It commonly affects the backs and fronts of knees, the outside and inside of elbows, the neck, hands, cheeks and scalp.
Cold sores are blisters that form on the lip due to the herpes simplex virus. They often begin with an itching, tingling or burning before a small fluid filled spot appears, usually on the edge of the lower lip.
Hives (or Urticaria) is a raised, itchy rash which may appear in one concentrated area or is spread over the body. Hives often clear up on their own, but if they are still present after 48 hours book an appointment with your GP.
Psoriasis is a skin condition which causes flaky red patches of skin covered in silver scales. Patches usually appear on elbows, knees and the lower back and are often itchy and sore. Symptoms may come and go, so it is important to visit your GP for diagnosis and treatment.
Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. It often causes intense itching which is worse at night, as well as a rash of tiny red spots. Visit your GP for treatment, as it can be cured with a cream that kills the mites.
If you are in need of non-emergency advice regarding your skin when your doctor’s surgery is closed, you can call 111 to talk to a trained NHS adviser. Alternatively book an appointment with your local GP for a consultation and check-up during surgery hours. If you need emergency or urgent care out of hours, you will be directed to one of our one of our out of hours services by a 111 advisor.