I love winter. Honestly I do. There is nothing more pleasurable to me than layering up in my winter woolies, slippers on, heaters roaring, and enjoying endless hot cups of tea, coffee or hot chocolate to warm my hands and body. Winter to me signifies long hugs to keep me warm, snuggling up to those I love, and curling up to read a book or watch a favourite movie.
Though I adore winter and all its snugness, there is one aspect that I really dislike, and that’s the effects it has on my skin. The cold wind blowing, the layering of clothes, the glorious hot showers and the drying heat at home are all precursors of horrible dry winter skin. Skin that becomes tight, itchy, dry and flaky. Winter skin in its fragility also tends to be reactive to common products used on the skin such as soaps and cosmetics. This reactivity occurs when the skins natural protective moisture barrier is compromised, leading the skin to become increasingly sensitive and vulnerable to external irritants. In turn, those prone to psoriasis or eczema can see it worsen through the winter months. What makes our skin so stressed in the cold?
Winter weather with its cold driving winds and lack of humidity strip our skin of moisture and all its moisturising oils. Though we try to avoid the cold and stay indoors as much as we can in the colder months, the heating at home, is very drying and will draw moisture from the air and in turn draw it from our skin. Those wonderful, long, hot showers I love so much further rob our skin of moisture leaving it unprotected and even dryer.
Our skin consists of 3 layers. The outer is a protective lipid layer that acts as a barrier to hold moisture within the skin and protect it. A damaged lipid layer caused by moisture being stripped away can lead to dry and irritated skin. When we take away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin, or remove that lipid layer, skin will become very dry and uncomfortable. Once the lipid barrier is compromised, our natural defence barrier is too and irritants can enter causing an inflammatory response in the skin which in turn can see the possibility of eczema and psoriasis flaring up.
Prevention is almost always the best cure, so how can we combat the drying effects winter will have on our skin?
Ensuring the skin remains hydrated is of upmost importance. We must try and retain the moisture in our skin. This can be done by a number of ways
- Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture in the air. This will help prevent the skin from drying out and becoming irritated.
- Keep showers as brief as possible and avoid using very hot water. Hot showers will soften the lipid layer on our skin whilst the soap will wash it away leaving your skin exposed!
- Use a soap substitute that won’t strip the lipid layer from your skin
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!!!!
Moisturising is by far one of the most crucial aspects when it comes to protecting our skin. It will keep the skin hydrated and combat dryness. For those with sensitive skin that becomes reactive in winter an exacerbates eczema or psoriasis, finding the right moisturiser becomes very important. The products used on your skin should not only moisturise but nourish and strengthen the skins natural barrier. A good moisturiser should contain key ingredients. The most important being a skin repairing ingredient. This ingredient will keep the cells of the skin connected, thus maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Other important ingredients should prevent water loss and also reduce the signs of inflammation such as redness, itching and discomfort.
Here at Custom Made Medicine we can provide you with a custom made formulated cream that not only replenishes and nourishes the lipids within our skin but also helps to restore the skins barrier and prevent the loss of moisture. This formulation reduces the appearance of redness and irritation and can also reduce the inflammatory response in the skin reducing the need to use topical corticosteroids.
I look forward to winter every year. The solitude, the quietness, the contemplation. The way time almost feels like its standing still while I snuggle up under warm blankets revelling in Winters inactivity and savouring the stillness. My winter Wonderland…..
Come and see the staff at Custom Made Medicine to discuss the appearance of your winter skin. Wether you are suffering eczema or psoriasis or just stubborn dry skin, the staff will provide you with the right information and a formulation custom made specifically for you to improve the health of your skin.
By Maria Zaknich B.Pharm