It does not matter where you live in the Northern Hemisphere right now, chances are you have been experiencing some unseasonally brutal and extreme winter weather conditions. Such conditions can cause severe damage to your skin if you do not protect it properly both before and after exposure. With a few simple precautions, you can keep your skin in a state of superior appearance! The following are some possible damages that could occur from winter elements and the best ways to prevent and care for winter skin problems.
Windburn is a common skin issue for people who downhill ski, however it can occur in everyday winter elements just as easily. This skin condition occurs when you are exposed to strong winds, cold temperatures, and low humidity for prolonged periods of time. Many people believe they have a sunburn due to the fact windburn symptoms also cause redness, dryness, and pain to the skin. Be sure to treat windburn differently than a sunburn. While it is traditionally associated with the face, it can occur on any body part that is exposed to the harsh winter elements.
Solution: Prevent windburn by lathering up with moisturizer and lip balm that contain SPF. If you do end up with windburn, lotion is your best friend. Lube up several times a day. You may need to use sensitive-skin products for this condition. Avoid acid-based products, and consider coconut oil and aloe vera for additional relief.
Chilblains, which can also be referred to as perino and perniosis, is a winter skin condition that affects your extremities, such as your hands, feet, nose, and ears. Women, people who are underweight, and individuals with poor circulation are more susceptible than others. This cold-weather skin condition occurs when you have not protected your exposed body parts. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, blisters, burning sensations, pain, red to dark blue skin coloring, cracked skin, and itching. This condition may return for a few winter seasons, however it is unlikely to be permanent if you take preventative measures in the future.
Solution: Chilblain prevention includes limiting time in the cold, dressing properly with water-resistant clothing and footwear, do not smoke, and exercise for good circulation. If you do find yourself with Chilblains, lotion will help with some of the symptoms such as itching and inflammation, however you may need to see a doctor if your condition is relatively severe.
Sunburn and Blindness
You are often at a greater risk of a more damaging sunburn in the winter due to the light reflection off the snow. UV exposure can be up to twice as much from the sun reflected off snow as during hot summer days. You can even experience snow blindness for up to a week because of the extreme brightness of the sun reflecting off the snow. If you are participating in outdoor snow activities, your risk of a winter sunburn is even greater than those who are simply walking to and from their destinations in short intervals.
Solution: Wear, at minimum, sunscreen with a high SPF daily and always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. It is essential to cover the underside of your facial features with SPF and because the sun is reaching places it normally does not such as under your chin and nose and all of your ears. If you do experience a winter sunburn, treat it like any other sunburn with soothing lotions, ingredients such as aloe, and limited sun exposure.
Frostbite is one of the most severe winter skin issues you can experience. You become more vulnerable to frostbite if you are dehydrated, smoke, abuse alcohol, and have poor blood circulation. If you are entering the beginning stages of frostbite, you will begin to have cold skin, numbness, prickling feelings, clumsiness, skin turns white to red, and possible blistering. Once you experience these symptoms, get indoors! If it worsens, you will likely have to visit a doctor. The most susceptible body parts include your ears, fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, and chin. You can develop frostbite quite quickly in extreme cold temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, a person in temperatures with a windchill of -19F can experience frostbite in as little as 30 minutes.
Solution: Frostbite prevention includes dressing appropriately, avoiding alcohol, no smoking, eating right, moving regularly, and limiting exposure to dangerous winter elements. If you do begin to experience signs of frostbite, it is essential to move indoors. Wear breathable layers that cover all exposed skin. And, surprisingly, it is actually recommended to wear insulated mittens rather than gloves. To treat frostbite, seek medical attention.
At the end of the day, as long as you use SPF moisturizer on a daily basis, use SPF lip balm before you go outside each and every time, wear sunglasses, limit your time outdoors, and cover every possible part of your skin that is exposed to the harsh winter elements, you will minimize your risk to any skin condition developed from extreme cold elements. Stay warm and stay safe out there!