How to prevent and treat dry skin during the winter season — be proactive this winter by moisturizing often and avoiding hot water
The days of winter bring more than just redness and cold to the cheeks and nose. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and uncomfortable itchiness of the body skin. For some people, the winter season is the period when they suffer of chronic itchiness of the skin of the arms, legs, and trunk. For some people, the problem is even worse they get skin so dry it results in flaking, cracking, mild bleeding, even eczema prone to infection.
The “moisture” barrier of our skin – keep it in the balance during the winter season
The stratum corneum is the most water-impermeable, external layer of the epidermis of our skin. It prevents water loss from skin sublayers and oversaturation from the environment, while also allowing for a small exchange of water that is essential for the maintenance of skin health and flexibility. In this way, the stratum corneum serves as an overall permeable but protective layer, or “moisture” barrier, for the skin by protecting against damage from environmental sources, retaining our essential moisture, and preventing desiccation of the epidermis. The function of the stratum corneum depends on the integrity of its physiological components. Natural moisturizing factor of our skin, a mixture of low molecular weight, water-soluble compounds consisting mainly of amino acids or their derivatives, is an essential barrier component that maintains water balance within the stratum corneum. Natural moisturizing factor of our skin is synthesized within corneocytes, while a “lipid matrix,” or highly ordered lamellar structure composed of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol, forms a micro–barrier around each corneocyte within the stratum corneum, thus preventing the loss of the natural moisturizing factor essential for corneocyte hydration. Suboptimal stratum corneum hydration levels, as a result of damage to the proteins and lipids that form the moisture barrier, initiate a chain reaction of misregulated biological processes that can lead to improper desquamation and scaly skin. Therefore, keeping the skin barrier components intact is important for preserving stratum corneum functionality, thus maintaining skin health.
Dry skin in the winter has been reported in the scientific literature to involve scaling, defects in water holding and barrier functions, and decreased ceramide levels in the stratum corneum. Modern cosmetic science even brought some interesting preliminary results that extract of Eucalyptus can alleviate this problem of decreased ceramide levels in the stratum corneum and improve dryness of the skin. The group of Japanese authors has made tremendous contribution to this discovery. The further research in this area of cosmetical science probably will result with some new products based on Eucalyptus extract to fight dryness of the skin either facial or body skin.
How to prevent and treat dry skin during the winter season?
Be proactive this winter by moisturizing often and avoiding hot water. Yes, please avoid as much as possible hot water for your bath and your shower. Use lukewarm water. Top fixes for itchy winter skin are: several humidifiers in your house, a good oil-based moisturizer, and lukewarm water; they can really help. Build a better skin barrier. An oil-based ointment is the best option for dry skin. You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine for you in spring and summer. But as weather conditions change, your skin care routine should change as well. Now, it is a perfect time for that! Find a moisturizer that is oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture.
But choose your oils with care because not all oils are appropriate for the face and body. Instead, look for “non–clogging” oils, like avocado oil, or sweet almond oil. These two oils, your skin will recognize easily. You can also look for lotions containing “humectants,” a class of substances including vegetable glycerine that attract moisture to your skin.
No, sunscreens are not just for summertime, not at all. Winter sun combined with snow glare and wind can still damage your skin tremendously, so take care of this aspect of protection as well. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time.
Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold, no doubt. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the moisture barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. Bathing with a high-emollient body wash, rather than a regular bar soap cleanser which are mostly alkaline in its nature, can reduce xerosis symptoms (abnormal itchy, red, inflamed dryness) and improve skin health and appearance without the additional use of a moisturizer.
Emollients works well helping your skin to retain water, moisturizing dry skin, reducing scaling, easing itching, softening cracks, protecting the skin as well as helping other creams and ointments to be absorbed into the skin.
Good natural emollients are jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grape oil and extract, hops, mango, cupuacu butter, bladderwrack, and European elder and many more. All these natural emollients are ingredients of the products of Dr. Isidor Apothecary. Please visit our shop, if you have any questions or you would like a signature product please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dr. Isidor Apothecary