Winter weather can bring harsh conditions for your skin, hair, and nails – from low humidity to cold temperatures that draw out moisture from the body. As we enjoy the beauty of winter in Atlanta, it is important to take precautionary steps to protect these areas of our bodies against extreme cold and dry air associated with shorter days and cooler temperatures. In this article, we will discuss several ways you can safeguard yourself by helping prevent irritation on your skin, brittle nails, and dull hair because of exposure to winter weather.
Q: Why do skin, hair, and nails get affected by winter weather?
The health of your skin, hair, and nails is supported by something called the extracellular matrix. Your extracellular matrix is made up of not only collagen, elastin, and keratin, but also hyaluronic acid, which is a moisture-locking compound.
The lack of humidity that comes with winter weather can slow down the regeneration of your extracellular matrix. Without sufficient moisture in the air, your skin, hair, and nails don’t look as healthy and beautiful as they did just a few months earlier.
Q: What is a winter rash and what are its symptoms?
Winter rash refers to extremely dry or dehydrated skin in winter. Causes include cold temperatures, low humidity levels, and using central heating.
You might have a winter rash if your skin appears red, swollen, or flaky. It may itch or feel sensitive to the touch. Bumps or blisters may form in the affected area. A winter rash can develop on any part of your body, but your hands, arms, and legs are the most susceptible.
Q: Are there treatments available for a winter rash?
A winter rash can often be treated using home remedies, including the following:
- Apply a thick moisturizer often.
- Rub petroleum jelly over the affected area to seal in moisture.
- Sooth the affected area with olive oil or coconut oil.
- Use natural soaps made with oatmeal.
- Use cortisone cream to treat itchy, irritated skin.
- Avoid scratching, which can cause cracking and bleeding.
If you have a winter rash and suffer from other skin conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis, then see a Dermatology Provider, who can help determine a treatment plan, which may include medications or topical ointments.
Q: Are there things we can do to protect our skin, hair, and nails during the cold weather?
Moisturizing daily is crucial to regenerate your extracellular matrix and prevent the effects of dehydrated skin and nails. With that in mind, opt for a moisturizer thicker in consistency than your summer product. Apply the moisturizer to your face and hands after washing in the morning and at night. In addition, moisturizing your cuticles with cream or oil helps protect and strengthen your nails.
Your hair needs moisturizer, too. When choosing a hair product, it should contain ingredients needed to lock in moisture and hydrate your hair. Some key ingredients to look for include coconut, olive, and almond oils; shea butter; and glycerin.
Q: What are your best skin care tips to help us keep our skin healthy through the winter?
Here are our favorite nine skin care tips that will help keep your skin healthy this winter.
- Moisturize frequently, especially with products containing hyaluronic acids, ceramides, and petrolatum – which help your skin retain and seal in moisture.
- Avoid harsh cleansers on the face. Instead, use gentle, hydrating, fragrance-free cleansers for daily cleansing and to remove makeup.
- Avoid hot showers, as hot water dries out your skin. Use lukewarm water instead and limit your showers to 15 minutes.
- Avoid loofahs, bath mitts, and scrubs, which can irritate dry skin.
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ every morning and reapply if doing any outdoor winter activities or sitting for prolonged periods of time near a window.
- Apply a hydrating lip balm with SPF to keep dry lips from getting chapped and sunburned.
- Limit alcohol intake, as alcohol can dehydrate your skin.
- Hydrate well with water throughout the day.
- Use a humidifier to replenish moisture in the air.
Q: Which skin conditions are affected by winter?
If you have a skin condition, then moving between warm and cold environments can increase your risk for experiencing flare ups in the wintertime. This is especially true if you have one of the conditions below.
- Rosacea: Rosacea causes facial redness, dilated blood vessels on facial skin, and swelling and pustules. While we don’t know exactly what causes it, we do know that cold weather is a trigger for many sufferers.
- Eczema: As the skin becomes drier in the winter, eczema frequently gets worse. People with eczema experience red, itchy skin that may become thicker and bleed when scratched.
- Psoriasis: The dry and frigid air, combined with the decrease of sunlight during winter, is known to worsen psoriasis, which causes raised red plaques, most frequently on the knees, elbows, and scalp.
Q: How are these conditions treated when they flare up?
Rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis benefit from the same types of treatments. Laser therapy and phototherapy are often used to treat these conditions, but your dermatologist may prescribe an oral antibiotic and/or topical medication to reduce symptoms and soothe the skin.
We Can Help You Avoid Dry Skin
As we all know, winter weather can do a number on our skin. If you’re struggling with dryness, MetroDerm is here to help. Our providers are experts in the field and will be able to develop the best plan for you based on your individual needs. So don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re happy to answer any questions you may have. And remember, you can always contact us to book an appointment.