What causes dry skin in winter and how to prevent it

Even as winter brings much-needed respite from the heat, it’s also not the best time of the year for your skin. Here’s what you can do about ...

3 min read

Even as winter brings much-needed respite from the heat, it’s also not the best time of the year for your skin. Here’s what you can do about it.

As the days grow shorter and the mercury slides down, our skin braces for the harsh conditions of the winter. Even if you’re not living in the hills or in cities prone to extreme weather, the drop in temperature saps the moisture from the skin, leaving it feeling parched, flaky and uncomfortable. Welcome to the season of dry skin.

What causes dry skin in winter?

The causes for dry skin in winter are many. Winters are particularly harsh on the skin, especially for those who genetically have dry skin. The primary cause for dry skin in winter is the cold, dry air.

When the temperature drops, the air’s ability to hold moisture decreases. This leading to a drier environment that literally sucks the moisture from our skin.

Winters also make hot showers and baths an inviting option. But the hot water tends to strip away the skin’s natural oils leaving it vulnerable to moisture loss. 

Harsh soaps and detergents can also lead to dry skin in winter as they disrupt the skin’s delicate balance, removing essential oils and weakening its protective barrier.

Medical conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also leave you prone to dry skin in winter.

Ultimately, there’s age. As you grow older, your skin’s natural oil production tends to decline leading to dry skin.

How to avoid dry skin in winter

Unless it’s a medical condition, there are several effective ways to combat and avoid dry skin in winter. By incorporating these practices into your daily skin care routine, you can keep your skin hydrated, supple, and comfortable throughout the season.

Moisturise regularly

Whether or not you have dry skin, moisturising is key to keeping your skin healthy and glowing. But when you have dry skin, moisturising is an absolute must because it helps replenish the skin’s natural moisture, which soothes and protects your skin. It also helps produce collagen that makes our skin appear smoother and more youthful. It also serves as a barrier on the skin that prevents it from UV rays and harsh weather that can cause damage to the skin.

Limit hot showers and baths

As tempting as it may be to step into a hot shower or soak yourself in a hot water bath, avoid it as hot water can drain out essential oils from your skin. Instead, opt for lukewarm baths and shorter showers. The lesser time you spend under hot water, the better it will be for your skin.

Choose mild soaps

Harsh soaps can strip away natural oils in your skin. Instead, you can choose gentle cleansers that are fragrance-free and labeled as ‘mild’ or ‘sensitive skin’. Also avoid soaps or body washes that have a strong fragrance. Typically, products with strong perfumes have chemicals in them that can damage the skin.

Use a sunscreen

Including sunscreen in your skin care routine for dry skin is a must. No matter the time of the year, you will do well to use sunscreen because even on the cloudiest days of the year, when you cannot see the sun, its UV rays filter through, damage your skin and make it prone to dryness. It is advisable to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even if the sun isn’t visible.

Drink lot of water

Staying hydrated is essential for overall skin health. Aim to drink eight glasses of water per day to keep your skin cells plump and hydrated.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Moisturisers, sunscreens, soaps, and all the skin care routines for dry skin can only help you to a certain degree. Nothing can compare to a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A good diet provides essential nutrients that support skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, can help maintain skin hydration and elasticity.

Protect your hands and feet

Your extremities — which is to say your hands and feet — are particularly susceptible to dryness. This is because they’re often exposed to the elements when the rest of your body isn’t. If you’re living in a cold weather place, consider wearing gloves. If not, make sure to apply a thick moisturiser to your hands and feet before bed to prevent dryness and cracking.

Avoid excessive exfoliation

Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells and promote growth of new skin cells. However, over-exfoliating can strip away natural oils and make dry skin worse. Limit exfoliation to once or twice a week in the winter and use a gentle exfoliating scrub as part of your skin care routine for dry skin in winter.

To be sure, dry skin in winter is a common and manageable condition. By following these preventive measures, you can keep your skin hydrated, comfortable, and healthy throughout the cold winter months. But remember, consistency is key. So, no matter what you do, make sure you do it regularly to avoid dry skin in winter.

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