You might not think about how the change of season can affect your skin, but it does -- and making some small changes to your skin care regimen can help you protect your skin during colder months. Below are four ways that fall weather can damage your skin, along with steps you can take to minimize that damage.** Wind**
Fall in much of the northern U.S. is known for windy, blustery days. As the wind whips past your face, it dries out your skin, leading to dull skin and increasing the chances of irritation. Windburn, when your face looks sunburned, is caused by a combination of dry air, friction of wind on your face, and exposure to the sun. It can cause redness, peeling, and a burning sensation. While windburn most commonly appears on your face, it can happen on any part of your body that is exposed to harsh weather.
- Keep your skin protected by wearing a coat with a high collar, a hat, a scarf, or other clothing that covers your skin and blocks the wind
- Use hats to help protect the upper part of your face
- Moisturize your face before going outdoors and again when you come indoors
- Use sunscreen, which can help protect you from both sun and wind by creating a protective barrier on your skin
- Limit your outdoor activities on windy days
Many people pack away the sunscreen when summer ends. But the fall and winter sun can be just as damaging as the summer sun. The sun’s rays can pass through glass and bounce off surfaces, such as water, snow and ice, exposing your skin from different directions. Even when the sun doesn’t feel warm, it can damage your skin, causing skin cancer and premature aging. Sun protection in the colder months is the same as sun protection in the warmer months. Remember, too, that sun damage can occur on cloudy days.
- Check the expiration date on your sunscreen, and purchase more when needed
- Look for long-lasting, broad spectrum sunscreens
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every morning before going outdoors. Keep sunscreen with you to reapply throughout the day
- Use sunglasses with a UV coating to help protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around your eyes
- Avoid tanning beds
Cooler and drier air
The outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, is made up of lipids, which help keep your skin moisturized. These lipids break down in cold weather, causing your skin to dry. Your face is most susceptible because it is usually the area of the body most exposed to the cold air. The cold weather also means turning on indoor heat, which can further dry out skin.
- Use a humidifier inside your house to keep air moisturized
- Swap your summer moisturizer for an oil-based moisturizer
- Apply moisturizer at least twice a day
- Wear gloves when outdoors to protect the thinner skin on your hands and apply moisturizer as soon as you take your gloves off
- Protect your lips when outdoors. Use a lip balm with sunscreen. Avoid shiny lip glosses as they can attract light to your lips
- Boost your intake of healthy foods to keep your skin healthy
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
Skin rashes from viruses and other skin conditions
As the weather cools, some people experience worsening of skin conditions, such as psoriasis. With children heading back to school, germs spread more easily. Other skin conditions, such as pityriasis rosea, are more common in the fall months, affecting teens, young adults, and those over 60. The rash from this condition can last anywhere from weeks to months.
- For worsening psoriasis symptoms, use an ointment or cream moisturizer liberally throughout the day, use a humidifier at home, and talk with your doctor about adjusting your treatment regimen or adding ultraviolet light therapy.
- For pityriasis rosea, home remedies include oatmeal baths, anti-itch lotions, and lukewarm baths. While it is not a dangerous condition, talk to your doctor if the rash is itchy. Steroid cream, ultraviolet light therapy, or other medications might help relieve discomfort.
- For rashes of unknown origin or rashes with an accompanying fever or other symptoms, talk with your doctor.
Dry Skin: American Skin Association
Essential Outdoor Sun Safety Tips for Winter: Skin Cancer Foundation
Pityriasis Rosea: American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
Psoriasis: American Academy of Dermatology
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.