Looking after your skin through Winter
Dry, chapped skin on hands, fingers and feet can be uncomfortable and unsightly, and a sign that all is not well with the balance of your skin.
During the colder months, you’re more likely to get trouble with chapped skin, as skin is damaged by dry, harsh conditions both indoors and out. Temperature fluctuations don’t do our skin much good either – and they, too, are going to affect us more often in winter than summer.
What are chaps?
Chapped skin happens when the skin is extremely dry, with too little natural oil, meaning insufficient moisture is retained. The skin finds it harder to perform its barrier function and becomes much more sensitive to irritants from outside. That explains why chapped skin is so often seen on the hands and fingers, which have most contact with antagonistic elements like harsh soap, detergent and extreme temperature differences.
Your body finds a natural solution by thickening the skin in the areas feeling most pressure. This callus layer is very dry and therefore often prone to cracking.
Start with prevention
It’s best to start from the principle ‘prevention is better than cure’ and guard against future problems by getting the skin back in balance, so it can carry on its natural barrier function. But if you’ve already got chapped or cracked skin, there are fortunately several things you can do.
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1. Repair and intensively nourish
Moisturise cracked skin areas as often as necessary with a rich restorative and nourishing cream based on natural ingredients. Avoid creams containing mineral oils, as they create a film on the skin that seals pores shut, so that eventually they will dry out even more. Weleda’s Foot Balm, one of our skin heroes, is ideally composed of rich natural creams with extracts of plants to nourish and freshen the feet.
Take advantage of a night’s rest to feed your skin intensively. Apply a thicker layer of cream that will last the whole night. In the case of your hands or feet, put on cotton gloves or socks afterwards, to let the cream soak in rather than rubbing off on the sheets.
2. Wound care
If the cracks in your skin are so deep that they become like small wounds, make regular use of healing care ointment based on calendula, such as Weleda’s Calendula Cuts and Grazes Skin Salve. Extracts of calendula officinalis (pot marigold) have a soothing effect and support the self-healing ability of the skin.
3. Protect and survive
Your hands have a lot to put up with, so give them extra protection. Wear gloves when you’re washing up to avoid getting detergent on your skin. Wear gloves when working in the garden too, to protect against soil-borne bacteria, and make sure both hands and feet are warm and comfortable, especially in winter weather.
4. Avoid products with synthetic ingredients
Care products that contain synthetic ingredients may affect the natural barrier function of your skin. Watch out for perfumes, preservatives and synthetic detergents in soaps and shower gels. By choosing mild, natural products you will keep your skin in balance – or get it back there after a bad patch.
5. Let your skin breathe
Dry air in your home has a direct impact on your skin. A humidifier, or simply containers of water near the radiators, can return air humidity to the ideal of 45 to 50%. Don’t forget, if cracked skin bleeds or becomes sore, inflamed or infected you should speak to your GP. For most people, treating dry skin well is the best route to avoiding winter chaps and rough, sore skin.