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Winter skincare solutions

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The importance of moisturisation. 

Skin Care Products Concept. Black woman applying moisturising lotion on body after shower, standing wrapped in towel, cropped image.
Moisturisation is a cornerstone of any good skincare routine and even more important during cold winter months. Shutterstock.com

As winter sets in, the drop in temperature and humidity levels can wreak havoc on the skin.1 Pharmacists have a crucial role in educating patients on adapting their skincare routine to combat the harsh effects of winter. 

UNDERSTANDING WINTER SKIN CHALLENGES 

  • Dryness: Cold air outside and heated indoor environments lead to decreased humidity levels, causing the skin to lose moisture rapidly resulting in dryness, flakiness, and tightness.1,2,3 
  • Increased sensitivity Exposure to cold winds and sudden temperature changes can exacerbate skin sensitivity and irritation.4 
  • Flare-ups of skin conditions: Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea may worsen during winter due to dryness and irritation.3,5 
  • Barrier disruption: The skin's protective barrier weakens, making it more susceptible to irritation and infection.6 

 

ESSENTIAL SKINCARE TIPS FOR WINTER 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate 

  • Emphasise the importance of using a hydrating cleanser and body wash that doesn't strip the skin of its natural oils. Recommend gentle, non-foaming cleansers with creamier formulas and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin.3,7,8,9 
  • Encourage the use of a rich, nourishing ointment or cream containing humectants, emollients, and occlusives to lock in moisture and prevent dryness. Suggest applying moisturiser immediately after washing while the skin is still damp to maximize hydration.1,3,7,8 

 

Protect and repair the skin barrier 

  • Stress the importance of using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, even in winter. UV rays can still penetrate through clouds leading to sunburn and premature aging.5,7 
  • Recommend the use of a barrier repair cream or ointment containing ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol to strengthen the skin barrier and protect against environmental aggressors.5,10,11  
  • Encourage customers to avoid harsh exfoliants and alcohol-based skincare products that can further compromise the skin barrier. Even gentle exfoliation with a mild chemical exfoliant containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) can be irritating on the skin during winter months.1,3,5 

 

Combat skin sensitivity and irritation 

  • Advise customers to switch to fragrance-free and hypoallergenic skincare products to minimise the risk of irritation and allergic reactions.1,5 
  • Recommend the use of a soothing serum or cream containing anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, panthenol, or colloidal oatmeal to calm irritated skin and reduce redness.5,12 

 

By emphasising hydration, barrier protection, and sensitivity management, you can help patients maintain healthy, glowing skin throughout the cold winter months. Encourage customers to consult with a dermatologist if they experience severe skin issues or persistent symptoms despite following a winter skincare regimen. 

REFERENCES 

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Cold weather and your skin. 2023. Available from: https://www.aad.org/news/cold-weather-and-your-skin 
  2. NUME-Lab Switzerland. How Does Humidity Affect Your Skin? Available from: https://www.nume-lab.com/humid-weather-skincare-is-humidity-good-for-our-skin/ 
  3. Eske J, Cobb, C. What to know about winter rash. Medical News Today. 2019. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324532  
  4. Engebretsen KA, Johansen JD, Kezic S, Linneberg A, Thyssen JP. The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. (2016) 30:223–49. doi: 10.1111/jdv.13301. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jdv.13301 
  5. Koenig D. Winter Skin Woes? Here’s What to Do – and What Not to Do. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/news/20231226/winter-weather-skin-woes 
  6. Kim BE, Leung DYM. Significance of Skin Barrier Dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018 May;10(3):207-215. doi: 10.4168/aair.2018.10.3.207. PMID: 29676067; PMCID: PMC5911439. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5911439/ 
  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Your winter skin survival kit. 2021. Available from: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/winter-skin-survival-kit 
  8. Skin Cancer Foundation. Cold Dry Air Requires a Little Extra Skin Care. 3 February 2023. Available from: https://www.skincancer.org/blog/cold-dry-air-requires-a-little-extra-skin-care/ 
  9. J.W. Fluhr, R. Darlenski, C. Surber, Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions, British Journal of Dermatology. 2008;159(1):23-34, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08643.x 
  10. Hon KL, Leung AKC, & Barankin B. Barrier Repair Therapy in Atopic Dermatitis: An Overview. Am J Clin Dermatol 14, 389–399 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-013-0033-9 
  11. Vaughn, A.R., Clark, A.K., Sivamani, R.K. et al. Natural Oils for Skin-Barrier Repair: Ancient Compounds Now Backed by Modern Science. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2018;19:103-117. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40257-017-0301-1 
  12. Madaan, Piyush; Sikka, Priyanshi; Malik, Deepinder S. Cosmeceutical Aptitudes of Niacinamide: A Review. Recent Advances in Anti-Infective Drug Discovery Formerly Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery. 2021;16(3):196-208(13). DOI: https://doi.org/10.2174/2772434416666211129105629 

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