3 Common Cold Weather Skin Issues and How To Prevent Them
Cold weather pushes people to spend more time indoors, but with the right preparation, you can stay physically active outside. Proper protection goes beyond bundling up to keep warm. Read on to learn about three common cold weather skin issues and how to prevent them.
Exposure to low temperatures and strong wind causes a painful skin condition called windburn. The low temperature and low humidity level strip your skin’s natural oils, and you can end up with dry, red, and flaky skin.
Without the protective barrier of sebum—the oil your body produces for moisturization—your skin is more exposed to the elements. The increased interaction with irritating conditions leads to more dryness and inflammation, and you can experience blisters, peeling, and high sensitivity to touch in severe cases.
People with psoriasis, eczema, and other preexisting skin conditions have a higher risk of developing windburn, but everyone should properly protect their skin. Use a gentle cleanser and apply ample moisturizer throughout the day. Central heating reduces moisture in the air, so use a humidifier whenever possible.
Another preventable cold weather skin issue is sunburn. While many people don’t think about dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays when the temperatures are low, you should take steps to stop sunburn from developing.
UV radiation is a type of energy the sun produces, and it’s the main cause of skin cancer. Excessive exposure to UV causes sunburn and damage to the skin’s elastin.
Just as you would during the sunniest times of the year, wear sunscreen and apply it as the manufacturer instructs. Sunscreen is labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF), which measures how well it will protect your skin from the UVB rays that cause sunburns. No sunscreen can block 100 percent of UVB rays, but dermatologists broadly recommend people wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.
At higher altitudes, UV rays penetrate the thin atmosphere more easily, and snow reflects the sun’s rays, increasing your exposure to UV radiation. Therefore, wearing sunscreen is one of the top ways to avoid sunburn on a ski vacation.
Winter acne is a seasonal form of acne, an inflammatory skin condition. Pores can become clogged with oil and dead skin cells and produce blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. People are more likely to develop winter acne when temperatures remain at or below freezing for several days in a row and humidity levels are very low.
Cold and dry air strips moisture from the skin; in response, the body produces more sebum. Overproduction of sebum can create a buildup of dead skin cells and bacteria, potentially leading to acne.
People with acne-prone skin are most likely to experience winter breakouts, but they can happen to anyone. Avoid washing your face more than twice daily since cleaning removes moisture, especially if you use hot water. Dermatologists recommend using a few layers of light moisturizers rather than thick, cream-based moisturizers to avoid winter acne.
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