Biting winds, rainy weather, and the dehydrating effect of indoor heating can all lead to chapped skin in the autumn and winter. This is compounded by the fact that we tend to drink less once the heat of summer subsides. And, when skin dries out it is more easily irritated and prone to infection. Read on to find out what we can do to soothe chapped skin naturally.
- Watch your fluid intake
First up, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or herbal tea. Even if we don't feel as thirsty in winter as we do in summer, we still need to take in fluids in our food and through drinks. Low sodium soups are another great way to stay hydrated and warm!
- Choose the right moisturiser
If, like many people, you use the same moisturiser in winter as you do for the rest of the year, it might be time to switch things up. This is especially true for older adults, particularly post-menopause, as skin can become drier and, thus, more prone to irritation. A light moisturising lotion might be fine for summer, when the air is more humid, but you might find that a richer cream is necessary to keep your skin looking and feeling good in the colder months.
Coconut oil, jojoba oil, and even a little olive oil are excellent choices for chapped skin. Apply these immediately after showering or bathing as this helps to lock in moisture that may otherwise be lost through open pores. Make sure to choose a natural moisturiser that doesn't contain alcohol (ethanol), phthalates, parabens, or other potential skin irritants. And, consider choosing a cream without essential oils as these can also have a dehydrating effect on skin.
- Moisturise the air!
In addition to moisturising your skin, consider adding a little moisture to the air in your home and/or office. The onset of colder weather usually means we close windows and crank up the heating, both of which can make for a dry, stuffy atmosphere that can cause irritation to mucous membranes and the skin. If your home has humidity controls, be sure to use them, and/or place a bowl of warm water by a heating source to help humidify the air, especially overnight.
- Nourish your skin
Seasonal eating gets a little more difficult in fall and winter, but that's no excuse to scrimp on fresh vegetables and fruits. Winter squash, brassicas, and root vegetables are in season in the colder months, and you can always extend your growing season with an indoor garden. Pickles and preserves, such as fruit leathers, chutneys, and jams, as well as frozen berries can help you get plenty of antioxidants including vitamin C and carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein.
Antioxidants play a key role in maintaining healthy skin cell membranes, which keeps skin from drying out. Essentially fatty acids are also important in this regard, so try to include flax, chia, and hemp seeds, as well as walnuts and pumpkin seeds in your diet. These are good sources of omega-3, which can help the body to manage inflammation, thereby helping support healthy skin.
- Wrap up warm!
Finally, if you're prone to chapped skin, you'll want to do your best to protect your skin from the elements. If you find that the skin around your eyes is often chapped and irritated, consider wearing wraparound glasses, such as clear or slightly tinted cycling glasses, when you're walking or cycling. This can help prevent eye irritation and watering eyes, and the resulting skin irritation from salt and from wiping away tears.
For chapped skin on your hands, consider wearing cotton gloves inside regular gloves. That way, you can put on hand moisturiser before you head out and arrive at your destination with happy, healthy, silky smooth skin.
There's no need to hide skin away all autumn and winter of course. Just be sure to protect your skin from harsh elements indoors and outdoors, and to nourish your skin from the inside and out.