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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nine Common Winter Skin Conditions and How to Ease Them

Photo Courtesy to Flickr User Chris Buhr
Winter is not easy on your skin. From the dry air outside to the lack of humidity inside, skin can easily get irritated and dehydrated, causing itching and flakiness. Dry skin is a winter condition we’re all familiar with, but do you know all of the conditions that are caused by harsh winter air? Below are common conditions that occur from exposure to cold air and ways that you can ease the pain. 

Acne 
Over-production of oil can lead to clogged pores, dead skin cells and bacteria on the skin, but dry skin can cause acne as well. Acne can happen on any part of the body, but it is most common on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Reducing the number of times that you touch your skin, especially your face, can help reduce acne, as well. A dermatologist can also recommend a topical regimen to help rid your skin of acne issues. Gentle cleansers and moisturizers can also help pesky acne that is caused by the cold. 

Eczema 
Eczema causes skin to become itchy, dry and irritated. It’s most common on the elbows, knees, hands and face. The best way to treat the irritated skin is to use a fragrance-free moisturizer and to avoid bathing more than once per day, since eczema is worsened when water settles on your skin. If the breakout is severe, there are steroids that can help relieve symptoms, as well. 

Chapped Lips 
Nothing is worse than cracking, red, chapped lips during the winter months. Chapped lips are one of the biggest issues people complain about during the winter season. Lips have a very thin layer of skin and are the most likely part of your face to dry out due to the dry winter air, wind and low humidity indoors. Splitting and cracking can also occur in severe cases, which is painful, does not heal easily and can act as a breeding ground for infection. One of the most common mistakes people make is licking their lips while out in the cold. This causes severe lip irritation and can making the chapping worse. Lip balm can ease and heal chapped lips by adding moisture and extra hydration. Many lip balms also contain healing medication that can cool and ease lip pain, as well. For more information on chapped lips, read our previous blog post on the topic here

Raynaud’s Disease 
For a person suffering from Raynaud’s disease, when the body gets too cold, the blood vessels spasm and constrict, resulting in a circulation issue. The affected area often becomes extremely pale, and the coloration between the affected skin and the healthy skin is apparent. If the body is exposed to the cold for a long period of time, the affected area can turn a deep purple from the lack of oxygen. When the skin finally warms up, it gets red, swollen and tingly, and it can be very painful. People who suffer from Raynaud’s can manage the symptoms by dressing in layers and wearing protective winter clothing, such as gloves, thick socks and insulated shoes, when they will be outside for long periods of time. 

Windburn 
Is the wind causing you to look like Rudolph? Cold winter wind can cause windburn, a skin irritation that causes dry, red, burning skin. To ease windburn, wear clothing that covers exposed skin when you’ll be outside. Scarves, coats and hats can help reduce the skin’s exposure and keep your skin protected and healthy. 

Winter Itch 
Do your hands and feet feel like sandpaper? Dry skin is not fun to experience. However, it’s nearly unavoidable when you’re forced to stay inside with the heat on during the cold winter months. Heat can dry skin out and make it flaky, irritated and itchy. The cold, outside air is also extremely dry and pulls the moisture out of skin. Using moisturizer and skin healing lotions can replenish your skin’s hydration. 

Psoriasis 
Psoriasis is a condition that is activated when the body’s defenses are alerted and your skin produces too many skin cells, which results in dry, flaky, scaly patches on the skin. The condition starts as a collection of small red bumps, then it progresses to these patches that are commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, hands and feet. The condition is incurable, but there are treatments that can calm the symptoms, including hydrocortisone, vitamin D and vitamin A creams, as well as treatments containing coal tar. Stress can exacerbate the condition, as well, so you can also try common relaxation techniques to keep psoriasis under control. 

Cold Uriticaria 
We’ve all heard of sun allergies, but have you heard of an allergy to the cold? Cold uriticaria is also known as cold hives. Large red welts, resulting from an allergy to the cold, appear on the skin. These welts are itchy and uncomfortable and can be as large as an inch in diameter. Some people may receive relief from antihistamine cream, but the most effective way to relieve the pain is by avoiding prolonged exposure to the cold. 

Rosacea 
Rosacea can cause your skin to look like you just ran a marathon, as it causes flushing and reddening of the face. An extremely common condition, rosacea isn’t just a winter issue, but it can flare up in any kind of extreme weather. It mainly affects the face, and it often looks and feels as though the person is blushing. Some people get bumps and pustules or dry eyes and eyelids along with the redness. If you suffer from rosacea, stay away from caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, wine, cheese and yogurt, as they can make rosacea worse. There are antibiotics that can ease rosacea, and skin peels and other treatments may help as well. For more information on rosacea, read our previous blog post on the topic here.

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