During the winter months, many individuals experience skin issues such as eczema, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. These conditions tend to worsen in colder climates due to the extreme drying conditions. The drop in humidity and temperature leads to a loss of moisture in the skin, causing dryness, redness, and cracking.
It is not uncommon for individuals with eczema to seek treatment more frequently during the winter. In fact, over 31 million Americans have some form of eczema. Similarly, other skin conditions like rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis also tend to flare up in the winter.
The main culprit behind these skin issues is the disruption of the skin barrier. The skin barrier acts as a protective layer, sealing in moisture and keeping out irritants. However, the dry winter air can strip away this moisture, leading to dry and irritated skin.
Several factors can exacerbate these skin issues during winter. Indoor heating, hot water, vigorous towel drying, hand sanitizers with high alcohol content, and certain fabrics like wool and synthetics can all contribute to further drying and irritation of the skin.
To alleviate discomfort and protect the skin barrier, there are several measures individuals can take. Repairing the skin barrier is crucial, and using products with ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B5 can help. Thicker creams and ointments are more effective than thin lotions. Petroleum-based products like Vaseline or Aquaphor can soften dry and cracked areas, while also soothing chapped lips.
Other preventive measures include wearing sunscreen with at least UPF 30, getting some sunlight for vitamin D production (or considering a supplement), staying hydrated, layering clothing made of 100% cotton, using humidifiers to add moisture to indoor air, and managing stress levels.
Taking a multi-pronged approach that includes these measures can help individuals maintain healthier skin during the winter months. Being mindful of the products used, avoiding irritants, and seeking medical help if necessary are all important steps in managing and preventing skin issues.