For many people with sensitive skin, winter is a time of endless itching and flares. We look at what you can do to relieve the dreaded winter rash!
As temperatures and humidity drop, the skin finds it much harder to hold onto the vital moisture that ensures it can build a strong and impermeable barrier against the outside world. Without enough water in its cells, skin can get fragile, leading to cracks, damage and extra sensitivity. And there’s a vicious cycle at play here: the drier the skin, the more water is lost; the more moisture is lost, the more fragile the skin. Which in turns leads to more moisture loss, more itching, and more damage.
So it’s important to stop that in its tracks! We’ve got seven excellent strategies to keep your skin soft and supple throughout the colder months, and reduce the severity and frequency of winter rash.
Keep your skin moisturised throughout the day, rather than just at night. Take your emollient of choice with you wherever you go, or keep one at your desk or workstation. Reapply regularly, especially after washing your hands.
Swap to a richer, more intensive oil-based emollient rather than a cream; the higher the oil content the more effective the emollient will be against moisture loss. Water-based creams are also more likely to sting, both because of their water content and because they have to include some kind of preservation system - and preservatives can sting sensitive hands!
Keep temperatures as low as is comfortable inside your house; if you’re used to rooms being piping hot when it’s cold outside, try turning the dial down a notch to avoid overheating when you get in. Central heating can seriously dry out skin, being both hot and dry. Turn it off overnight if possible.
UP THE HUMIDITY
Invest in a humidifier if you’re finding that being inside dehydrates your skin and is causing it to get dry, rough or flaky. Open windows and doors when you can to keep air circulating indoors
Winter skin can be more sensitive to things that you can tolerate perfectly well in summertime. These include detergents, perfumes, soap, wool, nylon, etc. You may need to give washing an extra cycle without soap to reduce detergent residue. Perfumes and scented candles can leave irritants in the air and cause problems, so they are best avoided if you’re sensitive. Mould spores are released in autumn and cause problems in cold damp houses.
Wear soft, thin layers that are easily taken off/put on as you move between environments. Regulating your own temperature is important to avoid heat-related flares.
Avoid overheating yourself or itchy, irritating fabrics like wool or nylon.
Long hot baths, although relaxing on a cold winter’s day, can play havoc with dry skin! Prolonged contact with water can actually dehydrate your skin, and if you’ve added scented bubbles or soap, then the problem is exacerbated! High alkaline soap can be intensely irritating to sensitive skin, stripping its natural oils and leaving its barrier function impaired.
To combat this turn down the heat, swap soap for gentle natural cleansers, add oil or oats to the water, and 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.