Home Medizin Hautprobleme im Winter? Hier erfahren Sie, was Sie tun und was Sie nicht tun sollten

Hautprobleme im Winter? Hier erfahren Sie, was Sie tun und was Sie nicht tun sollten

von NFI Redaktion

December 26, 2023

“Eczema is my constant winter companion,” said Ali Zagat, 42, from Philadelphia. As soon as it gets cold, dry, red patches appear on her hands and painful cracks form on her knuckles and fingertips. “I have sensitive skin and eczema in general, but when the air is drier and colder outside, it gets worse.”

There are clear reasons for this, said Julia Tzu, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. “Our skin constantly fluctuates with the environment. In winter, the humidity drops sharply in the Northern Hemisphere and the temperature drops – it’s an extremely drying condition, causing your skin to lose a lot of water.”

Zagat’s experience is not unusual – studies have shown that eczema patients are more likely to seek treatment in colder temperatures. And people living in cold climates are at a much higher risk of developing it than those in warmer areas. More than 31 million Americans suffer from eczema in some form, also known as atopic dermatitis. Other skin conditions can also occur more frequently in winter. For example, cold and wind can trigger the redness of rosacea. And seborrheic dermatitis, a scaly rash (called dandruff on the scalp), worsens in cold weather. In a study of thousands of people with psoriasis, more than half had more problems in colder months. Amy Kelly, 44, lives on a farm in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She has suffered from psoriasis since childhood and knows she has to expect the worst when the weather gets frosty. “At worst, my psoriasis itches so much that I compulsively scratch at it until it bleeds,” she said. “And when the skin breaks from scratching, it burns as well.” All of these problems have a similar cause: Winter destroys the skin barrier. “The skin barrier is essentially a fortress that seals your body,” said Tzu. As the top layer of your epidermis, the barrier contains waxy ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids that help retain moisture and keep environmental irritants out. When the ambient air is extremely dry, which is often the case in winter, it can deplete the skin barrier of its natural moisture. What makes it worse?

Unfortunately, some of the things we do in response to winter weather can cause further problems: the indoor heating that is so important for comfort robs the air, and eventually your skin, of moisture. Hot water, which seems like an easy way to warm hands and body, has a drying effect. Think about how hot water helps clean greasy dishes. On your body, this means that part of the skin barrier is dissolved. Vigorous rubbing with a towel dries quickly, but also tears the skin barrier. Hand sanitizers, so helpful at this time of year for preventing colds, flu, and COVID-19, contain at least 60% alcohol – which is very drying. Wool and synthetic fabrics provide warmth, but can irritate sensitive skin. You may want to rethink your favorite knit cap or the fluffy mittens your grandma made.

Oftentimes, skincare products themselves can be the cause. Many anti-aging products can be too aggressive for winter skin. “In general, avoid anything that irritates,” says Tzu. “If you use a retinoid in the summer, reduce the frequency in winter. Avoid or reduce the use of products containing ingredients like vitamin C, glycolic acid, beta or alpha hydroxy acids, and retinols or even physical exfoliants.” And it’s not just the active ingredients that can cause trouble. For many people, fragrances trigger flare-ups. “It might smell good, it might feel good, but avoid fragrances, whether natural or not,” said Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Poison Ivy is natural and look at what it does to our skin.” What makes it better?

Once your skin is dry and flaky, itching and burning can quickly set in. Here’s what you can do to relieve the discomfort: focus on repairing your skin barrier. Look for products with ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B5 (also known as panthenol), said Tzu and Khetarpal. You may want to avoid thin lotions that dispense from a pump and instead look for thicker creams and ointments available in a tube or jar. If you are using a prescription topical medication, apply it first and then apply a moisturizer. For dry and cracked areas like heels or elbows, a petroleum-based product like Vaseline or Aquaphor can quickly soften the skin. “But remember, oil and water repel each other,” said Khetarpal. “Using these products is fine, but it won’t permanently improve the skin barrier. It will just be a lubricant sitting on the skin.” These barrier-forming petroleum-based products can also relieve chapped, cracked lips. Apply it frequently and try not to lick your lips – the little moisture may be helpful at first, but when the water evaporates, it will dry you out even more. If you use scented skincare products, switch to unscented versions or products labeled for sensitive skin. Also, „free and clear“ laundry detergent can help. Wear layers of 100% cotton as a base and cover as much skin as possible when going outside. Less exposure means less drying. Make sure your bedding at home is 100% cotton – just think about how much time you spend touching this fabric with your skin. It also helps to cover up indoors. Zagat relies on gloves for dishwashing and even sleeping. Every night before bed, she applies her prescription cream and a layer of moisturizer to her hands, then puts on gloves made of 100% cotton. The soft fabric not only locks in moisture but also prevents her from scratching too much in her sleep. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. It’s okay to run it only at night, said Khetarpal. “When you wake up in the morning, you’ll find that your skin doesn’t feel as dry anymore.” Don’t wait too long to seek help if your skin is uncomfortable. “If it’s just your skin, no obvious rash or anything else you’ve noticed, try moisturizing for a week,” said Tzu. “If it doesn’t go away, see a dermatologist.” Stop problems before they start Even if you’ve never had skin problems in winter, they can occur. A few preventive measures can help avoid discomfort altogether: wear sunscreen every day. The sun’s UV rays are not as strong in winter as on a beach day in summer, but they still reach your skin. Radiation penetrates skin cells and damages them. Khetarpal recommends a UPF of 30 or higher, just like in summer. On the other hand, some sunshine seems to be good for winter skin. This study on psoriasis with thousands of people found that those who worked outdoors reported fewer winter flare-ups. Small studies have shown that vitamin D, which your body needs sunlight to produce, plays a role in both eczema and psoriasis. If it’s too cold to spend time outdoors, talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin from the inside. “If you’re dehydrated in the desert, a glass of moisturizer won’t help much,” said Tzu. “Most moisturizers only really work when moisture is nearby.” Apply an extra layer indoors instead of turning up the heat. Bathe and wash your hands and face with lukewarm water. Pat your skin dry and leave it slightly damp. Moisturize within 3 to 5 minutes to lock in the moisture. Tzu recommended carrying a travel-size container in your bag so you can apply some every time you wash your hands. Keep an eye on your stress levels – both eczema and psoriasis can be triggered by stress. Whether you want to heal or maintain your skin’s health, it makes sense to take a multi-faceted approach. Amy Kelly, who suffers from psoriasis, becomes active as soon as the temperature starts to drop. She not only covers up when going outside but also takes a vitamin D supplement and drinks plenty of water. “I also watch my sugar intake,…

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