Dry, rough skin in winter? A dermatologist reveals the best skin care tips

It itches, tenses, looks pale and is brittle: Our skin suffers in the cold season. The good news: the right cream can do a lot. Dermatologist Jörg Faulhaber explains how we can maintain our skin healthy again.

Why is the skin so stressed in winter?

The skin’s natural, protective grease film is fed by millions of small oil glands. With falling temperatures, these glands produce less and less skin fat. In extreme cold, this fat production can even be stopped completely. In this way, a major component of the natural skin protection coat is lost. Since the fat film of the skin is missing, the water evaporates faster from the skin surface. The dry heating air also extracts important moisture from our skin. The skin dries out, itches, tightens and small cracks can appear. The constant alternation between warmth inside and cold supports this process – winter is pure stress for our skin!

Why are many people so pale in winter?

Under the influence of cold, the blood vessels under the skin contract. The body ensures that the heat is kept inside the body. However, this also reduces the blood supply to the skin. It looks pale because it reaches less oxygen and nutrients.

How can I treat dry spots on my face?

Sensitive, dehydrated skin needs intensive and long-lasting hydration. Optimal care strengthens the skin’s resistance and supports the skin’s own protective barrier. It has to glide smoothly over the skin and immediately create a pleasant feeling of wellbeing. Basically, it is important to pay attention to the individual needs of the skin – this applies both to the choice of face care and the right dosage. The skin should be in the morning and evening after cleansing provided with the necessary care .

What do you mean by “required care”?

A good recommendation is a “pea size”. If the skin of the face needs more care, it is advisable to apply cream more often with small amounts than to overwhelm the skin with a large amount. An excessive amount of cream cannot be optimally absorbed by the skin and can bring it out of physiological balance. It may react with impurities.

What can I do if the skin tears open in winter?

Lipid-rich creams on a water-in-oil basis help against dry skin. They form a thin layer of insulation and protection on the skin, keep the cold out during a walk and prevent the moisture in the skin from evaporating excessively. The urea urea is absorbed into the skin and binds water. On the other hand, for people with oily or acne-prone skin, it is advisable to stick to the usual care products even in winter. New products may promote the formation of sebum.

Which products are recommended for preventive care – for lips and hands, for example? Interview with an expert

The skin on the back of the hand and face is particularly stressed in winter. On the face, the lips and the pinna are most affected. For preventive care of the skin, I recommend creams containing urea and glycerin. A moisturizing cream that is applied before going to bed helps against dry hands. Then keep on cotton gloves and leave on overnight. Care products based on beeswax are recommended in the lip region.


What am I doing wrong if my hands only feel drier after applying lotion?

In this case, I would advise changing the care cream. It can make sense to use a cream without emulsifiers, parabens (preservatives) and fragrances.

What do I have to consider when cleaning – showering or washing my hands? Maybe I better leave out the soap, because it washes fat out of my skin after all?

Do not leave out entirely, instead use a pH-neutral soap or products with a pH of 5.5. For the hands there are also moisturizing hand washing oils. 

When should I go to the dermatologist?

With eczema. Or if the skin becomes inflamed and tears. 

Do you have any skin care tips? that you use yourself to get through the winter well?

I clean my skin particularly mildly in the cold season because washing-active substances and surfactants also rob the skin of valuable fats. That means: I avoid bubble baths and rather add nourishing additives like almond oil to the bath water. In the shower I use shower oils and do not shower too long and not too hot. After showering, I apply main care creams. I also try to keep an eye on my diet.

Why this?

Because we can support skin health through our diet. Plant dyes such as carotenoids (particularly rich in carrots and tomatoes), polyphenols (for example in green tea) and flavonoids and vitamins are good. I generally recommend a Mediterranean diet with high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The basic principle is: nutrients that protect the heart and circulation are usually also good for the skin.

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