Whether you’re battling cold winds to get into work, or stuck indoors with the heating on full blast due to a “red weather alert” in your area, the recent UK snow may be having a detrimental impact on your skin.
“When the temperature is in the minus numbers with snow and icy winds, it’s important to look after your skin to keep it from going dry and chapped,” British Skin Foundation spokesperson Lisa Bickerstaffe tells HuffPost UK.
“Try to keep trips outside short and if your feet and clothes are wet from the snow, be sure to change out of them as soon as possible to avoid irritation and chafing.”
The effects of the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma on skin may be particularly acute for those who have dry or eczema-prone skin the rest of the year, but there are a few ways you can limit irritation.
Consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation trustee, Dr Bav Shergill, says “moisturising regularly and using an emollient that’s right for you” is important while the cold weather persists.
“This will help replenish the lost moisture from the skin. Keeping skin moist is imperative to avoid it getting cracked and infected,” he says.
Emollients come in lots of different forms, including lotions, creams, bath oils and soap substitutes. If you don’t already have an emollient at home, you can purchase one from your local pharmacy - but be careful about travelling in the snowy weather to do so.
If you venture outside, Dr Shergill recommends protecting your skin with warm clothing including a scarf, hat and gloves, so less of it is exposed to the elements.
“If the snow makes your clothes damp, ensure that you change into something dry as soon as possible and don’t leave wet clothes in contact with your skin which may cause further irritation or chaffing,” he says.
If your skin is feeling chapped from trips outside, Dr Shergill says you should avoid harsh, alcohol-based cleansers and soaps, and stay away from cleaning products that contain alcohol to limit further irritation. While dry, flakey skin can be frustrating, exfoliating it at this time could also exacerbate problems.
Those stuck indoors in red weather areas will want to stay warm, but central heating can also affect your skin.
“The drier air in centrally heated buildings means the skin can dry out,” Dr Shergill explains. “So try not to turn the thermostat up to maximum.”
Instead, stay warm where possible by wearing layers of clothing that are soft against the skin. Some materials, for example, lamb’s wool, may irritate skin and cause further flare-ups.
Finally, Dr Shergill recommends you avoid the temptation to have a long hot bath, as this can “strip away much needed natural oil from the skin”.
“Try and shorten the length of time and remember to keep the water temperature warm not hot,” he says.
“Apply a moisturiser to skin straight after a bath or shower while the skin is still slightly damp. Drying your skin vigorously with a towel can damage it, so pat dry and don’t rub. ”