The effect of seasonal weather changes, especially during the winter months, can take a significant toll on your skin. Facial skin ravaged by exposure to the elements can exhibit symptoms of dryness, flaking, itching and even sore, scaly patches. Taking a proactive approach to caring for your skin during these months will help you avoid the worst impact that winter can have on your skin.
First and foremost, your best defense for winter skin care is protection!
Even during the winter months, you absolutely need to continue to apply SPF 15 or greater sunscreen when outside. Even though you might think the sun's effects are diminished during the winter months, nothing could be farther from the truth. The reflection of the sun off snow and ice can be particularly damaging. Wearing a scarf that can be easily pulled up to protect the cheeks and bottom portion of your face is also a helpful preventative measure to limit the skin's exposure to the elements.
Although it may seem contradictory, dry skin benefits tremendously from exfoliation to help eliminate the flaking skin cells, to smooth the skin's surface and promote cell rejuvenation. Whether you choose to use a chemical exfoliant such as an AHA product like glycolic acid or a mechanical means such as a facial scrub, incorporating a means of exfoliation into your routine at least a few times a week can dramatically improve dry skin. And for heavens sakes, don't use any type of astringents or soap. They will only dry out the skin more. Instead, try using a super rich cleanser such as one with a soy or oatmeal ingredient to give your skin a conditioning treatment as you cleanse.
Maintaining the skin's moisture content during the winter months is also critical.
The skin is typically well hydrated after a warm shower or steaming facial. Immediately seal in the moisture with a skin cream rich in emollients. Moisturizers keep the skin conditioned while offering protection against the harsh effects of the cold. The drier the skin becomes, the more frequently a moisturizer should be applied.
To treat any of those very dry, scaly patches that might develop, use a petroleum based product on the affected areas before bed. Believe it or not, plain old Vaseline works wonders on stubborn dry, cracked, and flaking skin. Unfortunately, most people cringe at the idea of using Vaseline on their face, thinking that it will clog pores and, in general, have a negative effect on the skin. In a word- untrue! Vaseline and similar petroleum based products provide a protective, insulating barrier for the skin on those frigid, windy days when applied as a light coat to the face and lips.
Finally, for those irritating patches of skin that persistently plague you despite your best efforts, an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment has significant healing effects on skin that is cracked and sore. For the extremely dry, flaking and itchy spots an OTC hydrocortisone cream can provide both relief from the itching and diminish the dry, flaking symptoms.
Please bear in mind that if your condition persists, it is best to consult with a Physician to find the best remedy for your particular skin condition.