Healing Winter Skin Damage

Keep hands and feet moisturized

Healing winter skin damage may include soothing chapped lips, cracked heels, dry hands, and itchy skin. Some simple techniques will help you and your skin sail through winter unscathed.

Healing Winter Skin Damage All Over

Dry Hands

Although washing your hands frequently in the wintertime helps eliminate cold and flu germs, it also strips your skin of natural oils and causes dryness. To heal dryness, apply a glycerin-based hand cream in the morning, before you go to bed, after you wash your hands, and any time they feel dry. To protect your hands from cold winter air, always wear gloves when you go outside.

Chapped Lips

Most people suffer from dry, chapped lips in the wintertime, due to low humidity. To help overcome this, run a humidifier at home and at the office, and drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. You can also apply beeswax or petroleum jelly to keep your lips moisturized. Avoid being in the sun and wind, and remember to protect your lips with balm or lipstick with sunscreen whenever you go outdoors. Try to avoid licking your lips-it only makes chapping worse.

Cracked Heels

Cracked heels are painful and common in the wintertime, and are caused by dry skin. Calluses around the rim of the heel often complicate the problem. One effective way of healing winter skin damage done to your heels is to coat them with petroleum jelly, cover them in plastic wrap, and wear a pair of cotton socks while you sleep. After three nights, you should begin to see improvement.

Gentle Facial Cleansing

Choose a gentle, oil-rich, fragrance-free bar or liquid soap to cleanse your face in the wintertime. Skip astringent, or use a non-astringent toner. For dry skin, look for moisturizers that contain hydrating urea, dimethicone, glycertin, mineral oil, or lanolin.

Exfoliate Before You Moisturize

To get the most out of your moisturizer, you should clear away dead skin cells to allow to moisturizer to better penetrate the skin. Choose a gentle exfoliator that contains lactic or salicylic acid, or try a natural exfoliator such as sugar.

Winter Moisturizers

You may want to use a different moisturizer in the winter than you do during warmer times of the year. If you usually use a light lotion moisturizer, try a heavier cream on dry skin patches. If you dislike a greasy or oily feeling, use a very small amount after a warm shower and rub in gently but thoroughly. You may also want to discontinue using anti-aging moisturizers containing retinoids in the winter, since they may further irritate dry, sensitive skin.

Moisturizers can either be humectants, emollients, or a combination of the two.

Humectants

Humectants are oil-free, and absorb water from the air. They include urea, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and propylene glycol.

Emollients

Emollients replace oils in the skin, and include baby or mineral oil, jojoba oil, petroleum jelly, lanolin, and stearic acid.

Stop Damage Before it Happens

An important way to prevent winter skin damage from happening is to apply sunscreen every day, even in the winter. Use one with a sun protection factor of at least 30, and reapply every two hours if you're outside, especially if there's snow on the ground. Snow reflects 80 percent of the sun's rays back on you, as compared to 20 percent for sand and water.


Staying on top of your skin's health is especially important during winter. The combination of dry indoor air and harsh outdoor winds may be a recipe for disaster for some skin types - but it doesn't have to be, so long as you follow a healthy skincare regimen.

Healing Winter Skin Damage