How Winter Weather Affects Your Skin

Everything from a poor diet to chronic health problems can affect the condition of our skin, but few things have as much impact as winter weather. The following are several ways the winter season can affect skin, and tips to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.

How Winter Weather Affects Your Skin

General Dryness

Cold weather in general is less humid, and therefore automatically dries out skin. Our skin has a natural protecting layer of moisture, and winter weather causes this layer to dry out and become flaky. The higher level of heat indoors during the winter can negatively affect skin just as much as the wind and cold outside by decreasing the moisture level.

Not only is it ideal to moisturize more often during winter months, but make sure to use a mild soap or cleanser, one without a lot of perfumes or additives. It’s also important to wear more cotton clothing instead of wool, as wool is an irritant against the skin.

Chapped Skin

Less moisture in winter air can make skin less pliable and more prone to crack. Temperature contrasts by going in and out often can also affect the elasticity of skin, causing it to chap and crack.

A proper diet can help alleviate dry, chapped skin. Make sure to get lots of vitamin A and B, which can be found in green vegetables and tomatoes. Regular exercise is also a must as it increases circulation and brings essential moisture and nutrients to the surface of the skin.

Itchy Skin

Once dry winter skin becomes cracked or chapped, it can start to itch. Basically, because of loss of moisture, skin cells die faster and build up on the skin, causing itching and flaking.

Make sure to wear gloves as often as possible during the winter months, and use a scarf to cover lips and cheeks as those areas are more susceptible to winter weather. Having a humidifier in the home not only helps moisturize skin, but keeps the inside of the nose and mouth from becoming too dry.

Worsening of Chronic Conditions

If you already suffer from skin ailments such as eczema or psoriasis, winter weather can worsen those conditions. Although it may be tempting during cold winter months to take a hot shower or bath to temporarily alleviate the discomfort, hot water on dry, sensitive skin will increase dehydration.


In extreme cases, winter weather can cause frostbite. This happens when your body has difficulty keeping your skin warm, and eventually circulation stops in certain areas such as fingers, toes and nose. The skin usually turns bright red in the early stages of frost bite.