How to avoid windburn this winter season
What happens to your skin in the cold outdoors
When it’s cold outside the air holds less moisture so humidity levels drop and things get dry. Natural moisturizing factor or NMF is the combination of amino acids in your skin cells that hold in moisture. Cold dry air and sun exposure work together to decrease the amount of NMF in the skin which can lead to irritation from dryness.
Still it’s primarily the sun that is likely responsible for what is generally thought of as windburn. Even when the sun seems to be gentle and filtered through the clouds on a cold winter day it’s still strong enough to do damage — especially if it’s reflecting off the snow.
Dry skin can make a sunburn feel worse and it may also make your skin more vulnerable to damage from UV radiation. On top of that the wind and cold weather can keep your skin feeling cool so you may not even notice your skin getting burned.
How to prevent skin damage in cold weather
Preventing windburn is the same as preventing sunburn: Apply sunscreen to exposed skin and wear sunglasses as well as protective clothing. A thick layer of moisturizer along with sunscreen (ideally one with SPF included) is your best defense against dry and burned skin. Look for a moisturizer with both hydration and protection according to dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann MD.
As a general rule cover as much of your skin as you can. If you’re skiing a full-face ski mask can help keep you warm and protected. Make sure your ears face neck and hands are not exposed to the cold air. Also don’t forget ski goggles with UV protection and lip balm with SPF.
How to treat windburn
How Stuff Works indicated that moisture and hydration will ease the irritated feeling of sun- and wind-damaged skin. Try aloe vera gel or your favorite moisturizer. If it’s particularly bad you may want to consider an anti-inflammatory medicine.
In more serious cases consult with a doctor for the best treatment options. Windburn can be a painful and irritating part of winter but it’s also one that everyone can avoid.
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