The seasons have turned - and so has your skin! What’s going on with cold weather that can make skin dry, itchy and extra sensitive?
Cold weather in autumn and winter can have dramatic effects on your skin; even if you’ve been happily free from any problems all through the summer, the changing of the seasons can often be felt in dry, rough or itchy skin.
But what’s causing the sudden change and why does cold weather make you itch? Let’s take a closer look at all the different factors that can affect the skin in wintertime.
- The temperature drops, and colder air causes the skin to lose more moisture
- Humidity also drops, which has the same dehydrating effect on skin
- Cold wind also strips water from the skin
- Both overly hot central heating and fan heaters can evaporate moisture from the skin
- Long, hot baths to warm you up after a cold day can strip oils from the skin, impairing the skin barrier function, increasing moisture loss and making the skin more sensitive
- Thick winter clothes can overheat the skin and cause itching or flare-ups
- Abrupt changes in temperature (ie moving from cold outside to a heated house) can dehydrate the skin
- There’s less sunlight, so your vitamin D intake is reduced; vitamin D is essential for skin health
The result? Drier, more fragile, more sensitive skin, because without adequate moisture, the skin’s resilience is impaired. The skin barrier, which protects you from the outside world, can get damaged and ‘leaky’. The more leaky the barrier, the more moisture is lost, and skin can end up in a vicious circle of dryness, damage, inflammation, itching and more damage.
In fact, the change in humidity and temperature can necessitate a whole new skincare regime, designed to lessen the effect of the colder, drier air.
What can you do to help your skin in winter?
Dry skin needs moisture! You can help your skin retain moisture in various ways, but the most successful technique is to use a moisturiser regularly throughout the day.
A good oil-based moisturiser will act as a second skin over a dry or damaged epidermis, protecting it from losing water through a leaky barrier. If your skin is really dry or cracked, choose an ointment or balm over a cream or lotion, as these have a higher oil content and will be more effective to protect skin from further dehydration, and allow the skin to repair itself under a layer of oil.
It might also help to put away fragranced creams, beauty treatments, scented soaps and shampoos until the spring. Make over your regime so you’re only using simple, natural and nourishing products.
Recommended products for winter skin:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.