Winter weather can take a heavy toll on our skin. We are constantly stepping between the warm, heated rooms indoors and the cold, dry air outside. We also tend to wrap up more at this time of year, which can cause problems if clothes are rubbing on our skin or if we over-heat and sweat builds up. The impact can be even worse if you already have problems with your skin as the winter weather can trigger flare ups for many skin conditions. Many people need to book an extra appointment with their dermatologist in London to get advice on changing their skincare routine or medication at this time of year.
How Does Winter Weather Affect Skin?
The main way that winter affects our skin is by drying it out. Most of us will have dryer skin during the winter due to the combination of dry, cold air outside and central heating inside. In the most extreme cases this can cause a skin condition known as winter itch that is a bit like dermatitis.
Winter itch happens when the skin dries out so much that it becomes uncomfortable and itchy. The itchiness can be worse when you’re wearing wool or flannel clothing as the texture can aggravate your symptoms. Winter itch is most likely to affect the legs, especially around the knees, inner thighs, and ankles. The symptoms are often worse at night or when you are changing your clothes and they can last for days or weeks. Some people frequently get winter itch throughout the cold season and it can reoccur each year.
Although winter itch doesn’t cause a rash, the skin can become irritated over time if you keep scratching. In the most severe cases the itchiness can also be very disruptive and distressing so it may be necessary to ask your dermatologist in London for medication to soothe your skin.
Another issue that can occur during the winter is cold urticaria. Urticaria or hives is a raised, blotchy rash that can be triggered by many different things. For some people, cold weather or cold water can make the rash appear. The hives usually develop quickly and go away by themselves within a couple of hours, but they can be itchy and very upsetting when you don’t know the cause. It’s important to check with a dermatologist if you have a rash for an unknown reason.
Skin Conditions in Winter
The drying effects of winter weather can be particularly bad if you already have a skin condition. Many people find that their symptoms get worse at this time of year because the weather is drawing moisture and protective oils out of the skin.
The skin conditions that are most likely to be triggered by winter weather are psoriasis and dermatitis or eczema. Guttate psoriasis is particularly common in winter as it can be linked to the Strep throat infections that are circulating at this time of year. Dermatitis and eczema are both characterised by dryness, so they can easily be exacerbated by the drying effects of winter weather. It’s important to be aware of any changes in your skin condition as the seasons change so that you can take steps to address them.
Skincare Tips for Winter
Since winter weather tends to dry out our skin it is important to take steps to hydrate and protect it during the colder months. If your skin dries out easily or you’re suffering from skin conditions such as winter itch then there are also some steps you can take to prevent skin irritation.
- Use moisturiser at least once a day and whenever your skin feels dry or itchy
- Remember to drink plenty of fluids so that your body stays properly hydrated
- Make sure that clothing next to your skin has a smooth texture instead of woollen or flannel material that could cause irritation
- Wear lightweight layers that you can adjust when moving into warmer or colder areas
- Take a warm bath before bed, remembering to moisturise afterwards
- Use a humidifier to make the air less drying and try not to over-heat your home
See your dermatologist in London if you need more skincare advice or if you have any concerns about skin conditions that are getting worse in winter.