The skin bears the assault of changing climates and seasons, and with it reflecting the changes caused by the environment. While the scorching heat of the summer vexes the skin with prickly heat, dehydration and sweat-associated problems, winter often spells disaster for your skin by causing rough and chapped skin, and dry skin that feels tight and drawn says Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Parvathi Padmanabhan.
What causes the dryness?
The cold and dry weather of winter cause drying of skin making it scaly. Lack of sufficient humidity outdoors also leads to a cracked skin which in turn lead to various skin infections and may trigger eczema that is itchy. Those with an inherently dry skin are especially prone to eczema and since the cells of the elderly replicate less quickly, they are more vulnerable.
Whom does it affect?
For women beyond menopause, less oestrogen means less sebum — the natural oil that lubricates our skin — making them prone to problems. Men with oily skin may get seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that causes irritated, flaking skin in hair growth areas such as the hairline and eyebrows. Teens can experience aggravated bouts of acne, and men and women both may develop keratosis pilaris, annoying little bumps that form on the arms. Moisturiser is an effective barrier against water loss from the skin. Ointments work better than creams and lotions because of their higher oil content. The prevention of excessive loss of moisture from the skin is important to avoid further complications of dry skin.
Tips for skin care in winter
1. When you are wearing clothes in layers, wear cotton clothes next to your skin as they do not cause skin allergy. Moreover, they absorb sweat. Unabsorbed sweat harbours microorganisms, which cause skin infections.
2. Massage your body with warm oils before bath. (Beware of slippery bathroom floors!).
3. Avoid long hot showers and bath. Quick three minutes bath is advisable. Do not wash with harsh or highly fragranced soaps. Soaps dry the skin and exaggerate the effects of the cold. Use a good-quality mild cleanser formulated for ‘sensitive’ skin. Pat skin dry. Apply moisturising lotion liberally all over the body when your skin is still a little wet.
4. Avoid repeated washing of face. This washes off natural oils from your skin and makes the skin dry and wrinkled. Use luke warm water instead of hot water to wash face. At night, use a good night cream. Night creams are specially formulated with a higher lipid content than would normally be comfortable in the day, to help restore softness to the skin.
5. Smear lip balm on lips to prevent chapping of lips. A light layer of ghee can also work as a natural lip protection.
6. Take care of your skin on heels by soaking in warm water, cleaning with a pumice stone or foot brush and apply moisturising products. This needs to be done at least three times a week.
7. For hair care, shampoo less. Extra conditioning is essential if your hair is dry.
General tips for a glowing skin
1. While moisturising from the outside is key to keeping dry skin at bay, the best defence comes from within. A daily multivitamin with bioflavonoids, biotins, vitamins A, C, D, E, and copper, manganese and zinc is a good start, but most important is a diet rich in essential fatty acids. The essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 can be found in nuts and seeds. They’re also plentiful in many oils, safflower, soybean, sunflower, black currant seed, flaxseed, and evening primrose.
2. Twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week can give your skin a healthy glow.
3. Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated. Not only does this help hydrate your skin to prevent dryness and itching but there are other numerous health benefits.
4. Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you intake; these act as diuretics releasing fluid from the body.
In the cool and dry season, your skin and hair, which should be your greatest assets become one of your biggest beauty problems but a few simple measures outlined above can resolve most of the issues.