Winter skin still an issue during lockdown – how to keep it supple as we huddle indoors

Alexandra Thompson
·3 min read
Portrait of a young woman in snow with scarf on her face trying to warm herself. Winter concept
Icy temperatures can dry the skin, exacerbating conditions like eczema. (Posed by a model, Getty Images)

As the pandemic continues to unfold, officials in England have reintroduced a nationwide lockdown until at least 2 December.

With tight restrictions only allowing people out for very limited purposes, many may expect so-called “winter skin” to be less of an issue in 2020.

Cold, windy weather usually dries skin out, exacerbating conditions like eczema.

Spending more time indoors, however, could cause our skin to be over-exposed to the equally drying central heating.

Read more: How to comfort eat like a nutritionist

As we contend with a second lockdown, experts have put together their top tips to keep skin soft, supple and comfortable.

woman legs on radiator
As lockdown forces us to spend most of our time at home, dermatologists warn cranking up the heating may dry out skin. (Getty Images)

“We know cold weather and winter is a known trigger to skin problems, especially eczema, because it triggers dry skin,” Dr Emma Gardette, a dermatologist at The Medical Chambers, told Yahoo UK.

“There are two factors in winter you have to take into consideration. First, when outdoors – the wind, the cold; but also indoors because of the heating.

“The air gets drier, so being indoors can make it worse, drying out your skin quicker.”

Read more: Quarter of women endure skin pigmentation

With people in England allowed out for essential shopping, exercise and medical appointments – to name a few lockdown exceptions – we could still be exposed to bursts of extreme temperatures.

“Cold air, particularly in the wind, can be very harsh on the skin barrier and dry it out more quickly,” dermatologist Dr Emma Craythorne told Yahoo UK.

“This can make the skin more sensitive and irritated.”

Watch: Three tips for healthy winter skin

How to ward off dry winter skin

To keep skin comfortable as the weather turns, use a gentle, soap-free cleanser.

“In colder months your skin needs more protective lipids,” said Dr Craythorne.

“For this reason, don’t use foaming cleansers. Instead, opt for a creamy cleanser.”

Exposure to extreme temperatures can make skin dry. Therefore, try and keep showers and baths short, and not too hot.

Read more: Why you should never sleep with the heating on

After washing, be sure to apply a moisturiser, which can be topped up throughout the day if required. These lotions may need to be thicker than the ones we typically opt for in summer.

If skin problems persist, consider investing in a humidifier to add more moisture to the air.

“Using a humidifier can save your skin in the winter,” said Dr Craythorne. “Put one in your bedroom so your skin will be exposed to some moisture while you sleep.”

While indulging in some winter comfort food may be more tempting than ever, many may underestimate how our diet affects our skin.

“A lack of nutrients can slow the movement of new skin cells from the lowest level to the surface, so your skin seems more dull and flaky,” Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director of Healthspan, told Yahoo UK.

As well as aiming for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, Dr Brewer also recommends taking supplements to give skin a boost.

“Evening primrose and starflower (borage) oils contain essential fatty acids that improve skin structure and softness to reduce winter drying,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be without evening primrose oil supplements, which supply an essential fatty acid – GLA – that improves skin quality, smoothness and lustre.

“Omega 3 fish oils have also been shown to improve itching, redness and scaling.”

Vitamin D is also important for our overall health.

People living in England cannot get sufficient levels of the sunshine supplement naturally between October and early March. Officials therefore recommend most people take a 10 microgram (400 IU) vitamin D supplement a day during autumn and winter.

If winter skin symptoms persist, see a pharmacist, who may recommend booking a GP appointment.

Watch: Actor Elle Fanning shows off her eczema