How to Relieve Skin Irritation During Cold Weather

Cold weather can be your skin’s secret enemy – especially when it gets freezing outside. One day you’re enjoying the cool weather breeze and the next day your skin hates it and it shows. Question is, why does your skin start acting up when the winter months come in and what can you do about it?


Girl smiling while enjoying the cold weather outdoor

During warmer seasons, the high temperature makes your skin produce oil which then keeps moisture from escaping. When temperatures drop and there is less humidity, the air becomes dry and it sucks out the moisture from your skin too. You will end up with cracked, itchy, sensitive skin. The harsh cold draft and indoor heating can make it even worse. 

What are winter rashes?

Winter rashes or cold weather irritation look similar to common skin flare-ups that are not exclusive to the colder climate. Irritation can affect different parts of the body but it’s very common on the hands and arms since these get more exposed to the cold. Here are some symptoms you can watch out for:

  • itching
  • scaly patches
  • bumps
  • blisters
  • flaking
  • redness
  • skin tightness
  • inflammation

Unfortunately, other skin issues may also flare up during this season. There is more of a risk factor for people who experience eczema, skin dermatitis, rosacea, asthma, allergies, psoriasis, and skin sensitivity. Those who have a history of such skin conditions tend to be more prone to developing winter irritation along with other symptoms from their predisposed skin issues. 

While we can’t really control the weather, some lifestyle changes and home remedies can help soothe and prevent winter rashes.

How to prevent cold weather irritation


Don’t forget to moisturize

Remember, your skin barrier needs all the support it can get especially during the colder seasons. The goal is to lock moisture in to help maintain the health of your skin barrier. Keep your favorite moisturizer on hand and reapply as much as needed. This isn’t the time to skimp! 

Opt for warm baths instead of scalding hot baths

It may be tempting to turn up the water heater when cold weather strikes but this isn’t the best thing for your skin. Keep your bath or shower water in comfortable heat. If it stings, it’s most likely bad for your skin. Scalding hot water strips your skin of its natural oils and that’s the last you want. You want your skin happily hydrated and moisturized. 

Air humidifiers

Dry environments get moisture out of your skin. It can be helpful to add a bit of humidity indoors to avoid getting your skin dried out. Air conditioners and other appliances can help balance air moisture indoors. Just remember to keep your humidifier clean and free from mold and bacteria.

Dress to impress

Impress your skin that is. Sometimes a little covering up will be enough. Dress up according to the weather covering areas that are sensitive to wind burns. The cold season is your chance to wear stylish scarves, jackets, and hats. Don’t let this chance pass and save your skin along the way.

Drink more water

Hydration is key. Drink up to get your skin healthy and supple. Also, be cautious about drinking soda, coffee, and tea. Yes, they’re liquids too but they’re also diuretics. Because they make you pee more, you tend to expel water and will have to just rehydrate after. In this case, good, simple water is still the potion of choice.

How to treat a winter rash


Occlusives are your friend

Petroleum jelly is occlusive meaning it’s an emollient moisturizer. It can help seal in moisture and protect your skin from further damage. It provides a physical barrier as well, helping your skin recover in peace. If you’re not into petroleum products, some natural alternatives are shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, and cocoa butter.

Milk soak

Soaking in some milk can help soothe itchy skin. The proteins and anti-inflammatory properties of milk will do the trick. But if milk baths seem a bit much, you can also do a spot-treat by dipping a cotton ball in some milk and applying it to the itchy area. Skim milk is ideal but any natural milk will do.

Oatmeal wash

A good oatmeal soap can help soothe skin irritation. You can also add ground oats to your bath or mix it with water and top the mixture on the affected area, letting it sit for about 10mins.

Topical cortisone cream

This is an over-the-counter treatment that can help reduce skin redness, itch, and inflammation. You can follow the box directions but it’s always best to get your doctor’s word on the treatment.

Do not give in to the itch

It’s pretty obvious but it’s still some tough advice to follow. We’re telling you, please don’t scratch. Conjure all the power you have to fight the urge to scratch. Scratching makes things doubly worse since it leads to skin lesions that will welcome bacteria and germs and cause infections. This will also add stress and lengthen the time it takes for your skin to heal.

Avoid harsh soaps

You need to be your skin’s best friend right now. Go for gentle cleansing and avoid harsh stripping agents. Your skin needs some healing – not further agitation. Products containing sulfates, alcohols, parabens, dyes, and harsh fragrances should be avoided.

Visit a dermatologist

If no home treatment is working, go to your trusted doctor and get some proper treatment. Sometimes a little visit to the clinic can save you from so much effort and resources because you get the exact treatment you need. No more trial and error.


The Takeaway

Don’t wait until a winter rash occurs. Prevention is the best step to keep cold season rash at bay. Enjoy the cold weather better by making simple lifestyle changes to get your skin in its best health. If you do end up getting that skin rash, there are ways to soothe and treat them at home. Listen to your skin’s needs and take gentle care of them. Remember to hydrate and moisturize. And lastly, don’t ignore your doctor’s advice!

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