Winter weather can be harsh. Even though in Florida, we don’t deal with the snow, we still have a drier climate in the winter months, and that in itself can still cause problems for our skin. From dry hands and feet to chapped lips and everything in between, you’ll want to take preventative measures to keep your skin happy and healthy in every season, including the winter.
During the winter, humidity levels are low, and your indoor heater is likely to be running. Your epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) can tend to “dry out” to match the level of the surrounding heat and low moisture, causing winter xerosis, or winter itch, which can result in redness, flaking, itching, cracking, and scaling.
Finding relief for your symptoms can be fairly easy, depending on how and when you seek treatment. Dry skin is traditionally not a serious health issue; however, it can produce several other obstacles. At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, we care about the skin you are in. Our experts recommend you schedule an exam with a licensed dermatology professional if you experience winter xerosis or any of its symptoms, to rule out risks for bacterial infections, allergies, atopic dermatitis, or other skin conditions that may be self-misdiagnosed.
In the meantime, let’s talk about how to help your skin feel its best during the chilliest part of the year. Here’s our top eight tips for better skin in the winter.
- Wear SPF. We cannot stress this one enough! Although it may seem like you are not seeing the sunshine as much, those UV rays are still strong. We recommend that you wear water-resistant and broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily, wear protective clothing, avoid tanning beds, and try to seek shade during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., since the sun’s UV rays are strongest during that timeframe.
- Stay hydrated. This includes internally an externally! Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You may also need to ramp up the intensity of your moisturizer for your face and body. During the winter, you may notice that your skin is more easily dehydrated and “thirsty,” thus needing more hydration from outside sources.
- Nurture your sensitive skin. Especially during the dry and cold months, if you have sensitive skin, you will likely notice more significant flare-ups such as redness, stinging, itching, and severe dryness. If any of these are bothersome for you, there are many at-home remedies you can try like using a soothing mask, cooling towel, and specially formulated creams to relieve symptoms. A trip to your dermatologist is always a good idea if you are a sufferer of sensitive skin.
- Treat yourself. Winter is a great time to book cosmetic dermatological treatments like laser resurfacing therapy. This is because you are less prone to spend as much time outdoors as you would in the summer. Use this time to your advantage and give yourself the go-ahead to give your skin a little extra TLC.
- Protect your lips. Lips are often overlooked when it comes to a good skin care regimen. But they need attention too! In the winter months, you can actually develop something known as “lip licker’s dermatitis,” which is when dry, red skin forms along the perimeter of the mouth. This is from the constant licking most of us unknowingly do as a way to moisten our lips when they feel dry. Instead of licking, and as a way of prevention, try using a moisturizing lip balm with an SPF during the day, and a thicker ointment at night for restoration.
- Prevent chapped hands. During the winter, look for heavier skin care products that help your skin, especially your hands, retain more moisture. Vaseline, jellies, ointments, butters, as well as thick creams and lotions provide a protective outer layer that locks moisture in under your skin. Petroleum jelly, lanolin, cocoa butter, and shea butter are all good, thick moisturizers to protect and hydrate your skin during the winter.
- Consider your skin care routine. Choose gentle, fragrance-free creams and lotions. While it’s tempting to choose products with your favorite winter scents, gentle and fragrance-free moisturizers are better for your skin. Chemicals and fragrances in skin care products can cause skin irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions. Harsh products can further irritate dry, sensitive skin during the winter months. Pare down your skin care routine during the winter and try to reduce the number of times you exfoliate to avoid stripping your skin of all its oils.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. What we eat can absolutely affect how our skin looks and feels. Consuming too much sugar as well as refined and processed foods can exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions, and lead to premature aging and acne breakouts.If your skin is already vulnerable due to what you are eating, then it is at higher risk of experiencing complications during the winter. Being more mindful of what you consume on a daily basis and making a conscious effort to be healthy is good for all aspects of your well-being.
If you are currently experiencing a flare up of winter skin symptoms or simply want to get ahead of your annual issues with dry skin, we at Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers are here to help! With an expert team of physicians, APRNs, and PAs, FLDSCC diagnoses and treats skin cancers, as well as skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, dry skin, rashes, warts and more, with the latest technological options.
For more information, or to schedule a comprehensive annual skin exam, call (855) FLD-SKIN, or visit www.fldscc.com.