Winter can be a difficult time for the skin, as skin is exposed to the volatile elements. During this season more than any other, skin has to deal with constant temperature extremes. Being indoors/outdoors and frequent skin washes with very warm water can wreak havoc with your skin, increasing sensitivity and be more susceptible to inflammation.
What is skin inflammation?
Think redness, dryness, itchiness, prickly heat, rashes even breakouts can be determined as the classical symptoms of skin inflammation.
Inflammation occurs when there’s a skin reaction to something you touched or something you ingested. This immune response can be due to infectious bacteria, damaged cells or irritants the body is trying to fight off to protect itself.
The function of an inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of the cell and tissue damage and initiate vital tissue repair.
Mainly there are two types of inflammation:
It can be acute lasting four weeks or less or be chronic lasting up to six weeks and beyond causing serious tissue damage leading to conditions such as eczema, rosacea or psoriasis.
Other known factors that can often contribute to skin inflammation are: diet, illness, medication and stress but taking proper care of your skin is essential for continuous skin health. Here are some tips to minimise visible signs of inflammation:
1) Wrap up while outside to keep a more even body temperature and to protect sensitive skin from rapid temperature changes. Don’t forget to wear your gloves to keep warmth and moisture trapped inside reducing vital moisture loss.
2) Use milder skincare especially soothing moisturisers. Look for ingredients such as: shea butter, aloe vera, cucumber, turmeric and allantoin derived from the comfrey plant have great skin repair qualities.
3) Avoid hot showers It can be quite tempting to wash the body/hands with very warm water. But that only gets skin drier and more irritated. Instead trying to wash with cooler water it’s best to soothe the skin.
Avoid washing with strong detergents, harsh scrubs and loofahs as it can exacerbate skin sensitivity.
Keep bath soaks for shorter period as they not only have a drying effect on the skin but they also strip skin of its natural oils.
4) Wearing tight clothing can sometimes trigger skin inflammation as clothes tend to stick to your skin when you perspire. Try wearing looser clothing as it allows skin to breath. Go for natural fabrics instead of harsher ones especially some types of wool that when in direct contact with skin can cause irritation.
5) Check your vitamin D intake skin naturally creates vitamin D when exposed to the sunlight but when it comes to winter this can be more difficult. This vitamin is essential for skin repair so it’s important looking for foods rich in it, or even consider taking a supplement it might help you as this vitamin has anti-inflammatory properties.
If your symptoms persist, consulting a doctor may be the best thing for you. Practice safe self-care. Stay well.