The first official day of winter is December 21st. However, winter weather in the northeast begins well before that. Winter brings cold, dry air that can severely dry out our skin. Due to the lack of humidity, skin can become dry, tight, cracked, and itchy. But don’t worry, it is manageable and by adding a few simple steps to your daily routine it can be avoided or reduced.
In the winter, it's important to:
- Moisturize! Make sure to moisturize the skin with at least once a day and more often if needed. With the dry air, an oil-based moisturizer works best to seal in moisture to the skin. However, remember to look for non-clogging oils to avoid clogging pores. Most lotions will say non-comedogenic on the label meaning non-clogging. Some common non-comedogenic oils include: argan oil, shea butter, and almond oil.
- Drink water! Drinking water and staying hydrated is important for skin and body health all year round. Try to drink 64 ounces of water daily unless otherwise advised by your physician. Although drinking water is helpful, it’s washing with water that gets tricky in the winter. A nice hot shower or hand washing feels good after coming in from the cold, but be careful not to use too hot of water. Hot water can dry skin out by stripping it of its natural oils.
- Apply sunscreen! Sunscreen isn’t just for the summer. Sunscreen is important for all seasons. In the winter, the sun is strong and can glare off the snow. Apply daily to exposed skin or at least before heading outside or for a long drive.
- Use a humidifier! When we crank the thermostat up to keep us toasty, the heat that comes out can drastically dry out our skin. It is important to stay warm, however a room humidifier may be a good option to keep the air moist.
- Avoid wet gloves and socks! Wet clothing can irritate skin causing itching, cracking, and sores. Change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
- Vitamin D! In the winter, people are outside less often, resulting in less activation of Vitamin D in our bodies. Ensure you are getting Vitamin D either through diet or supplementation. Foods high in Vitamin D include fish, cheese, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as cereal or orange juice.
- Don’t pick at dead skin! The top layer of skin may become chapped or cracked during the winter, but don’t pick it off. Exfoliate gently with a scrub.
By following these few, simple tips we can keep our skin healthy throughout the harsh winter months.
For answers to some commonly asked winter skin care questions visit: http://www.wakehealth.edu/Health-Central/Winter-Skin-Q-A/