Did you dread the drop in temperature knowing that your skin would take a turn for the worse? Today we have a guest post from Melissa, who writes about skin wellness and nutrition. Read her advice on simple ways you can manage and prevent the itch during the coldest months of the year:
Winter can be a magical time of the year. You get to drink hot chocolate, cover yourself in a warm blanket, and not feel bad about being a couch potato when it’s snowing outside.
It’s (Not Quite) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
But then the cold weather begins to seeps into your clothing. The amplified indoor heating begins to make you feel uncomfortable. Underneath the layers, your skin is starting to dry up, and worse yet, it becomes itchy. While the weather provides an opportunity to cover up your skin from the world and from people staring at your skin, it also brings about changes to your skin…for the worse.
The combination of freezing outdoor weather, low humidity and turning on the heating can wreak disaster on the skin. Indoor heating can quickly dry out your skin, especially if you are stepping in and out of buildings.
You may be nodding your head as you read this. If so, I can completely relate. I’ve had to deal with this as well given my history of eczema. However, I’ve used some remedies that have helped to combat this issue and help keep my skin as comfortable as possible regardless of the harsh weather.
Remedies, Both Big and Small
The five main remedies you should use (I saved the best for last):
1. Wear multiple layers
Sometimes when it gets warm indoors, my skin on my stomach can get irritated if I have too many layers. The skin gets warm and can sweat, especially if sitting down for a long period of time.
This is when wearing layers comes in handy, so that you can adjust your warmth level as needed. I also find that it’s good to wear a loose layer underneath so that the fabric doesn’t irritate your skin. For example, I might wear a snug fitting sweater outside, and then a t-shirt underneath. If you’ve been sitting down too long, get up and stretch. It helps to alleviate itchiness.
2. Tone down the shower
I know a number of people who try to ease their itchiness and dryness by taking a hot shower and focusing the water on the part of their skin with the worst patches. Big mistake! If anything, effectively boiling, for lack of a better term, your skin will irritate and worsen your skin even further – but I’m sure you knew that already.
It can be very tempting to turn on the shower to a hotter temperature the longer you stay, especially in the wintertime. Your body gets used to the temperature, so then you feel the need to just inch up the temperature, just a teensy bit. Before you know it, the water is on “red alert” high heat but still feels lukewarm to the skin.
What I do is start off the shower at a low heat, so that it gets used to the initial low temperature as opposed to starting it off at high heat. Then, when it’s time to get out of the shower, I have a towel close by to stay warm and pat out the moisture, since we all know that dreaded cold feeling once the water’s off.
Your body gets accustomed to the cooler temperature the same way that it get used to hot temperatures, so remember that it’s best to begin the water at cooler levels to start off.
Rather than using heat, why not use something cold to alleviate the itchiness? Using an ice pack or something cold, such as a metal water bottle, and pressing it against the skin does wonders to calm down the skin when it’s itchy.
3. Have lotion ready everywhere you go
This one sounds obvious, and maybe it is, but ask yourself: have you been ever stuck in a place where your skin felt dry, but you had no lotion to alleviate the dryness?
There’s not much out there that feels worse than just washing your hands in a public washroom and instantly start feeling the moisture leave the skin. For this reason, I always have on hand a non-fragrant lotion – at work, in my purse, in the car, and in almost all rooms in my home.
Getting a few bottles of lotion and placing them in convenient areas will do wonders for keeping your skin hydrated when you need it. You won’t need to keep reminding yourself to bring lotion around. Why? Because it’s already there!
Non-fragrant is generally a better alternative to fragrant lotions and soaps because the chemicals in perfumed products can be irritating to skin. The best way to find this out is to test it on a patch of your skin and see if there is any negative reaction, such as inflammation and redness.
4. Invest in a humidifier
The dry air, constant heating and closed windows can wreak havoc on your skin when indoors. In this case, you may find it useful to invest in a humidifier.
A humidifier helps to combat the negative effect of heating by releasing moisture into the air. There are also air-purifying types of humidifiers. These are helpful if you suffer from allergies present in the air, such as dust and animal fur.
5. Modify your eating habits
I saved this one for last because using food and nutrition to mend dry, itchy skin isn’t mentioned nearly enough. A large reason behind itchy, dry skin in the winter is because the skin barrier is weakened. Nutrition should be used as a primary component to enhance the skin barrier again.
To do so, one of the things I recommend is preparing homemade chicken or beef broth, as these have a ton of nutrients from animal bones to repair the skin. Vegetable soups are great options too. I like to throw in some diced carrots, celery and brussel sprouts, as these have a lot of nutrients to strengthen the skin barrier.
Vitamins are another great way to prevent “winter skin”. Personally, I take magnesium, calcium and omega-3 tablets. If you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t have many options nearby, don’t worry too much about taking all of them. Even taking one type will go a long way towards helping your skin.
If I had to recommend one tablet, it would be omega-3 due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. Omega-3 can also be found naturally in flax seed and in fish, such as salmon. Ground flax seed is incredibly versatile and can be sprinkled on anything: soups, salads, drinks, you name it!
The best way to keep away the “winter itch” is to prevent it in the first place by eating nutritious foods, getting lots of rest, and staying hydrated.
If there was one key takeaway from the above remedies, it would be to start by eating the right foods.
Questions? Fire away.
Melissa Chu is a writer who focuses on improving your life by taking on a positive mindset and improving your skin naturally. Using a blend of personal experiences and academic research, she focuses on making small, actionable steps in order to achieve big goals. You can catch her at www.jumpstartyourdreamlife.com.