How The Cold Weather Can Affect Your Skin And How To Combat It 

The plummeting temperatures and biting winds of winter can wreak havoc on our skin’s delicate balance, leading to a host of uncomfortable and unsightly issues. From dryness and flakiness to redness and irritation, the cold climate can leave even the most resilient complexions in need of extra care. In this article, we delve into the science behind how cold weather affects your skin and explore effective strategies to shield and nourish it during the winter months. Whether you’re a skincare enthusiast or simply seeking relief from winter’s skin woes, these insights will guide you toward a radiant and healthy complexion all season long. 

Aggravating Eczema And Dermatitis 

Cold weather can be particularly unforgiving if you already grapple with eczema and dermatitis. These skin conditions, characterised by redness, itchiness, inflammation, and sometimes even painful cracks, can become exacerbated as the temperature drops. The low humidity levels that often accompany cold air strip the skin of its natural moisture, leading to heightened dryness and irritation. The outer protective barrier of the skin, crucial for retaining hydration and repelling irritants, can weaken, allowing allergens and irritants to penetrate more easily. Furthermore, the urge to seek warmth indoors by cranking up the heat can worsen the situation. Artificial heating systems contribute to indoor air dryness, further depleting the skin’s moisture levels and intensifying the discomfort for those with eczema or dermatitis. The combination of these factors creates a perfect storm for a flare-up, leaving sufferers with a cycle of itching and scratching that can be hard to break. To combat the cold weather’s impact, individuals with these conditions should adopt a vigilant and proactive skincare routine. Regular and generous application of moisturisers helps to maintain the skin’s barrier function, and using gentle, fragrance-free products can minimise potential irritants. Additionally, wearing protective clothing, such as gloves and scarves, can act as a physical barrier against harsh elements. By understanding and addressing the unique challenges posed by cold weather, those with eczema and dermatitis can navigate the winter months with greater comfort and skin resilience. At The Independent Pharmacy, you can browse a selection of non-prescription treatments for eczema such as hydrocortisone and Fucidin cream. 

Cracked And Sore Skin 

Even if you don’t suffer from eczema or dermatitis, your skin can still be severely affected by the cold weather and begin to display similar symptoms. The outermost layer of your skin, responsible for locking in moisture and shielding against external aggressors, can become compromised. This weakening of the skin barrier allows irritants to penetrate more easily, triggering redness and itching. The result? Unsightly and often painful cracks that seem to appear out of nowhere, especially on your hands, elbows, and heels. Even seeking refuge indoors doesn’t necessarily spell relief. The artificial heat indoors further contributes to drying out your skin, compounding the problem. It’s a vicious cycle—your skin dries, itches, and then you scratch, further damaging the protective layer. To combat the cold’s assault on your skin, it’s crucial to adopt a proactive approach. Regularly applying a nourishing moisturiser helps to replenish lost moisture and strengthen your skin’s defence. Opt for products with rich emollients to lock in hydration. Don’t forget to shield yourself from the cold’s bite by wearing protective clothing, like gloves and scarves, to minimise direct exposure. By understanding how the cold air saps your skin’s moisture and learning to protect and nurture it, you can prevent the discomfort of dry, cracked skin and enjoy a more comfortable winter season.


When you find yourself braving the frigid cold, your skin can sometimes pay a painful price in the form of chilblains. These small, red, itchy bumps might seem harmless at first, but they’re a clear sign that your skin is struggling to cope with the cold. The sudden narrowing of your blood vessels in response to chilly temperatures, followed by rapid warming, can lead to inflammation and the development of these uncomfortable lesions, particularly on your fingers, toes, ears, and nose. Treating chilblains requires a two-pronged approach: prevention and relief. To prevent their onset, focus on keeping warm and well-insulated. Dress in layers, paying special attention to extremities, and avoid sudden temperature changes. Properly insulated clothing are your allies in this battle. Should you find yourself afflicted with chilblains, providing relief becomes paramount. First and foremost, rewarm the affected areas gently. Soaking them in warm (not hot) water and applying a soothing moisturiser can alleviate discomfort. Resist the urge to scratch, as it may worsen irritation and potential infection. Over-the-counter creams containing corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation, while oral pain relievers can manage pain. Getting to know the causes of chilblains and taking proactive measures to prevent them can spare you from the discomfort they bring. Should they still make an appearance, early and proper care is your best defence for a speedier recovery.


When the cold weather descends, your skin can become a battleground, especially if you’re prone to rosacea. The combination of chilly air and low humidity levels can trigger flare-ups, leaving your complexion red, inflamed, and uncomfortable. The cold’s impact on your blood vessels can exacerbate the dilation of tiny facial capillaries, intensifying the appearance of redness and leading to the classic rosacea “flush.” To effectively manage rosacea during colder months, a careful skincare routine is essential. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturisers to soothe and nourish your sensitive skin. Shield yourself from harsh winds with a scarf or a face mask, creating a barrier against the elements. Additionally, staying hydrated helps maintain your skin’s natural defences. When a flare-up does occur, don’t lose heart. Cooling your skin with a damp, cool cloth can provide relief. Consider using skincare products formulated with ingredients like niacinamide or azelaic acid, known for their calming properties. If necessary, consult a dermatologist, who can prescribe topical treatments or recommend light therapies to manage your symptoms. Remember, understanding how cold weather impacts your rosacea and taking proactive steps to protect and treat your skin can go a long way in helping you enjoy a more comfortable and confident winter season.

Preventing Damage To Skin During The Winter 

As winter’s chill settles in, taking proactive steps to safeguard your skin from the harsh elements becomes paramount. The cold, dry air can wreak havoc on your complexion, but with a few simple strategies, you can prevent damage and maintain a healthy glow. First and foremost, hydrate, inside and out. Drink plenty of water to ensure your skin stays moisturised from within. Employ a rich, emollient moisturiser to create a protective barrier on your skin’s surface, sealing in moisture and preventing dryness. Adjust your skincare routine to suit the season. Opt for gentle cleansers that won’t strip away your skin’s natural oils. Consider adding a nourishing serum or facial oil to provide an extra layer of protection. Don’t underestimate the power of sun protection. Even in winter, harmful UV rays can affect your skin. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, especially when spending time outdoors. Dress in layers to shield yourself from biting winds, and don’t forget accessories like gloves, scarves, and hats to cover exposed skin. Lastly, avoid long, hot showers which can strip your skin of essential oils. Opt for lukewarm water and pat yourself dry gently. By following these precautions, you can ensure your skin remains resilient and radiant throughout the winter season.

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