Cold weather is here in Montana, which means snow flurries, skiing, cozy fires, and endless cups of hot cocoa. It also means it’s the time to take some extra steps to keep your skin happy and healthy. Skin is the body’s largest organ, after all, and it deserves a little extra TLC. Dry, chapped skin caused by the cold can lead to irritation, itching, and a whole lot of discomfort. Too much-untreated dryness can even cause dermatitis or infection. Save yourself—and your skin—this winter with these cold-weather skincare tips.
Moisturizer is the key to healthy winter skin. All that cold air, nipping wind, and dehumidifying central heating makes it extra important to seal in moisture to your skin with lotion, lip balm, and hydrating creams. In the dry winter air, you’ll likely find you need to layer on moisturizers more than in summer. It’s a good idea to have lotion handy, especially after you wash your hands (and we’re doing a lot of that lately).
Even though it’s cold out, you still need to protect your skin from the sun. Sure, less of your body is exposed to UV rays when you’re layered up, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn, are strongest in summer, not winter. But sunlight reflected off of ice and snow, especially at high elevation, can still damage your skin and cause burns. Make sure to wear sunscreen if you’re going to be out and about with skin exposed, even when the weather is overcast.
Keeping moisture in your skin starts with keeping moisture in the air, especially in dry Southwest Montana. Investing in a home humidifier can help your skin stay healthy, and you don’t need to spend a lot to see a significant benefit. Budget-savvy shoppers can find deals on humidifiers, with plenty of options out there for under $50.
Some strong fragrances common in lotions and hand soap can compound irritation on already dry skin. It may be best to stay away from powerful smells if you’re experiencing itching and dryness on irritated skin.
When the air is cold, it’s second nature to hop into some hot water to get warm. But you don’t want to go overboard here. Extended exposure to hot water actually dries out your skin faster, so keep that in mind when you’re showering and washing your hands. It’s a good idea to limit how much time you spend in the water, and then moisturize after.
And you know that conventional wisdom about washing your hands with hot water to kill germs? It’s actually a myth. According to the CDC, you should use whichever water temperature feels best to you. As long as you’re soaping up and scrubbing well, warm and cold water have the same impact for getting your hands clean. It’s the soap that does the germ-killing job.
You already know how important it is to layer on the moisturizer, but protecting your skin doesn’t stop there. When you head out into the elements, keep yourself bundled up to protect your hands and face from wind burns, excessive drying, and sunburns, too. Keep your socks and gloves dry as best you can, and change out of wet clothes as quickly as possible to prevent your skin from getting irritated.
To set yourself up for long-term health and wellness that starts at the skin-level and goes much deeper, contact your nearest CHP clinic today to connect with one of our healthcare providers.