Caring for Your Skin During the Winter Months

Renhua NA, Deputy Director of the UFH Center for Clinical Research, Dermatologist

Your skin is the largest organ that you have in your body and it is one that has multiple uses. It not only covers and protects everything inside your body, but it also helps your body stay at just the right temperature and allows you to have the sense of touch. Your skin, however, is often the one organ that we do not look after—especially during this time of year.

The winter and spring are particularly vulnerable seasons for your skin. The winter in particular can play a huge role in the way your skin reacts. This is especially the case in the northern parts of China where the weather is harsh, cold, dry, and dusty. People with sensitive or dry skin are particularly prone to problems during the winter season.

A common condition during the winter season and one that we treat often is dry, itchy skin. If you are suffering from this condition it is often easily treated, but remember to see your dermatologist or doctor straight away to be properly diagnosed.

By following the tips below, you will be able to beat dry itchy skin before it even starts this winter.

Tips to help you get your skin through the winter months

  1. Do not take more than one shower/bath a day. Over washing removes the natural lubricant that skin produces and makes skin dry and flaky.
  2. Do not shower/bathe for more than 10 minutes. The longer you stay in the water, the drier your skin will get.
  3. Do not shower/bathe in hot water. Heat increases the rate that water evaporates from your skin leaving it dry. Luke warm water is a better choice.
  4. Avoid saunas and steam baths. Like hot showers, they increase the rate that water evaporates from your skin leaving it dry.
  5. Use a mild formula soap or shower gel and don’t exfoliate.
  6. Apply moisturizing cream right after you shower/bathe while your skin is still damp. Moisturizers lock water into your skin but do not help add water so the best time to apply them is straight after your body has been in contact with water. For very dry weather, a thin moisturizer that is applied after a shower is not enough; in this circumstance, some thicker and greasier creams will do a better job.
  7. Avoid wearing nylon or woolen clothing because these materials can irritate your skin. Loose fitting undergarments made out of 100% cotton are best when your skin is dry.
  8. Air-conditioners, over-heated rooms, and windy weather all make the environment dry, which in turn can make your skin dry. To combat this, put some plants, fish-tanks, or humidifiers in your office and home.
  9. Apply some extra protection if you have to go out on a windy day.
  10. The sun is not as hot or bright in winter; however, if you are outdoors for long periods of time, your skin can still get sunburned, particularly in the snow. Be sure to apply sunscreen in these cases.
  11. Avoid spicy food as it can make your skin dry and itchy.
  12. Drink lots of water and limit your intake of alcohol.