Winter Skin Conditions: Causes and Treatments

winter skin conditions

Winter is hard, for more reasons than one. Christmas shopping, holiday parties, family drama, and over-indulging on holiday treats can all take their toll on your wallet, waistline, and sanity, but even after the holidays are over, there are still three months of winter left to wreak havoc on your body. Between the dropping temperatures and lack of daylight, it’s hard to stay healthy, upbeat and motivated, but winter weather is especially hard on one part of your body in particular: your skin. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to boost your winter skin care regimen. Here, we’ve gathered a list of the most common winter skin conditions, and the best ways to combat them.


Dry skin is one of the most common and stubborn winter skin conditions. Dry, cold winter air takes away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin, leaving your skin prone to flare-ups of eczema, psoriasis, and other winter skin conditions. Hydrating facials are also a great way to help your skin recover from exposure to the elements, and get bonus points for self-care. Those soothing hot baths and showers we like to indulge in during cold winter months can also contribute to skin’s dryness. Try to keep shower temperatures and times at a low, and always use a full body moisturizer immediately after you shower – ideally, while you’re still damp to trap that moisture where your skin needs it. Lastly, use a humidifier in your home to increase moisture levels in the air, which benefits both your skin and your respiratory system.

Wind Damage

Cold, blustery wind can strip away the skin’s natural moisture layer, leaving it prone to surface damage. While mild redness or irritation may not seem like a big deal at first, this registers as trauma to the skin, inducing an inflammatory response, causing puffiness, red bumps, cracking, and can cause flare-ups of eczema or psoriasis. With these kinds of winter skin conditions, prevention is the best medicine. Use thicker, hydrating moisturizers that are equipped to withstand harsh winds and protect the skin’s natural barrier. Counteract irritation with products that soothe and comfort to reduce skin redness and inflammation.


During winter, weather and climate conditions do a number on the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The last thing you want to do during this time is strip away those natural oils and nutrients and leave your skin open to damage. Using gentle cleansers that hydrate (rather than exfoliants or foaming face wash) will protect and fortify your skin’s natural defenses to prevent irritation and dryness in winter months.

Sun Damage

Gloomy overcast skies are no excuse to skip your sunscreen. Though exposure to daylight is limited during the winter months, it can still be harmful. Sunlight on overcast days is just as damaging as on the sunny ones of the summer. Cancer-causing, age-accelerating UVA rays penetrate through cloudy skies, damaging the deepest layers of your skin. Always be sure to apply sunscreen after you moisturize. Give your skin plenty of time to dry in between applications and before applying makeup. Dermatologists recommend 15 minutes of dry time to allow the sunscreen to effectively absorb into your skin.


Dandruff’s root causes are many and varied but are far more likely to become a problem in winter. The combination of cold winds, dry heated air, and thick winter hats causes scalp irritation, dryness, and flaking. Sever scalp dryness can even cause hair loss if left unchecked. Add a high-quality zinc shampoo to your haircare routine to moisturize your scalp, combat dandruff and prevent future flare-ups.

Dry Hands & Feet

Your face receives the most exposure and is most prone to damage, but it’s not the only part that needs extra care. Dryness and cold air take a toll on your hands, nails, and cuticles. And wintertime is especially rough on the feet and ankles. Unlike in summer months, when manicures and pedicures abound in open-toed shoes, feet are often neglected during the winter months, resulting in scaly, cracked heels come sandal season. Hands are especially prone to early signs of aging, and harsh winter weather only accelerates this effect. Keep your extremities healthy and happy with a moisturizer made especially for hands and feet. Apply at bedtime, wearing socks and gloves while you sleep. You’ll give your hands and feet an intensive overnight treatment and wake up feeling silky soft. 

As winter approaches, temperatures drop, heaters turn up, winds blow and snow begins to fall. Keep your skin protected against the elements for the months ahead. Use these tips to combat damaging winter skin conditions and keep your skin protected all winter long. Double-down on your winter skin care regimen and come spring you’ll be smooth and glowing from head to toe.