We all experience drier, and somewhat more sensitive skin in the colder, winter months, and the solution is not as simple as ‘drinking more water’ to hydrate your skin.
There are many factors that can contribute to dull, dry, dehydrated skin , and many ways in which you can remedy the situation during winter.
Cold weather, especially cold wind, combined with increased use of indoor heating leads to an increase in transepidermal water loss (TEWL). This essentially leads to a decreased water content in the stratum corneum (uppermost layer of the skin), leading to dry, rough, scaly and sensitive skin.
The situation is worsened with long hot showers and soaps that contribute to damaging the skin barrier function, further contributing to TEWL.
Dry skin has a genetic component, and some will be more predisposed than others, though even those with ‘normal’ skin will notice some change in their skin condition.
A change in the weather or season is often known to cause flare-ups in those with pre-existing dry skin conditions, or medical conditions and medication that causes dry skin. Hypothyroidism, renal impairment and other chronic illnesses can cause skin dryness, as well as commonly used drugs like isotretinoin and lithium.
Cold air tightens the skin’s pores and reduces blood circulation. This reduces sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance which acts as a protective layer that traps moisture in the skin. With humidity in the air lower during winter, the effect is that existing skin conditions are aggravated.
Worse still is that dry skin makes fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. All the more reason to make that extra effort to keep our skin in good condition!