While many people who live with eczema, rosacea or psoriasis look forward to temperatures dropping because they know cooler air can reduce how hot, bothered and itchy their skin gets, others dread the turning of the seasons.
Although the heat of summer brings all kinds of skin issues (it can exacerbate rosacea, increase eczema linked with pollen allergies, and inflame seborrheic dermatitis, for example), winter can affect skin in a number of ways too.
This is largely down to the air being so much colder and drier in winter.
There are additional seasonal issues - the drying effect of central heating, getting overheated in woollies, wind chill factor, having long hot baths, being indoors a lot with household allergens - but the main thing is that transepidermal water loss increases dramatically in winter, which means that skin dries out more and is more vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.
Why does cold, dry air have such a bad effect on skin?
The reason that winter can be bad for skin is all to do with the way the skin loses moisture when the air temperature and humidity changes. As winter progresses, humidity levels begin to drop, both outside in the open air, and inside your house or workplace. Low humidity draws moisture out from the top layer of skin: you actually end up losing moisture into the air, and without that extra moisture the skin can dry out substantially.
What causes low humidity? That’s down to the colder temperatures: cold air holds less moisture than warm. So the lower temperatures ushered in by the change of season are responsible for both drier air, and drier skin.
Because dry skin loses more moisture and lets in more irritants, the drop in temperature can result in skin problems. You might find your skin gets:
What can you do to prevent or treat winter skin problems?
Follow these steps to keep skin moisturised and resilient, even in winter!
- Keep your skin moisturised throughout the day
- Swap to a richer, more intensive oil-based emollient rather than a cream
- Keep temperatures as low as is comfortable inside your house
- Invest in a humidifier
- Open windows and doors when you can to keep air circulating indoors
- Avoid your triggers: detergents, perfumes, soap, wool, nylon, etc
- Wear soft, thin layers that are easily taken off/put on
- Moisturise immediately after bathing to lock moisture in!
Recommended products for winter skin:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil
with rosehip, calendula, lavender & chamomile
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.