Oh, winter. I’ve always hated winter. Sure, maybe that first snow around the holidays is nice.
Winter rarely shows you its true colors right away. At first, it’s seductive. The falling snowflakes against the Christmas lights. That first sledding trip. The dog jumping through the freshly fallen snow. The crisp chill in the air that makes you want to get out the hot cocoa.
But winter can hide its capacity to cause human suffering only for so long. Somewhere around mid-January it loses its magic. That bright white Christmas snow turns into brown, dirty piles. The roads are covered in slippery slop. The wind chill numbs your face when you step outside. Your lips are chapped, and your skin is flaky dry. You realize somewhere around the end of January (especially this winter) that if you spend one more day — just ONE MORE DAY! — alone trapped in the house watching Mickey Mouse, that you may go insane like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
One added problem for me is that I get really dry skin. In fact, my skin often feels more like sand paper than soft, lady skin. You could actually cut paper with the bottoms of my feet. My toddler’s skin gets pretty dry too.
Why does this happen to our skin in the winter? Air is drier during the winter because cold air can’t hold as much moisture. If it’s 86 degrees outside, that air can hold three times as much moisture as air at 50 degrees can. The air is further stripped of moisture inside from our heating systems.
When it’s dry outside, I’m much more prone to sinus troubles so my doctor recommended that I use over the counter saline nasal spray to moisturize my nose.
My son’s skin is not nearly as dry as mine. Since my skin is more severely dry, I use ointments and oils for my own skin and moisturizing creams for his less dry skin. (Make sure to read the labels to check what the active ingredients in any skin treatment are; treatments that contain “active ingredients” contain medicines that have been approved by the FDA.)
I love long showers, but during winter I try to shorten them because long, frequent showers can further dry out the skin.
There’s not much I can do about the other parts of winter (the blizzards, the blinding wind, the messy roads) that make me miserable, but at least I can treat my dry skin! Well, I can also hope for an early spring, but since I live in western New York (where winters often stretch far, far beyond when official spring begins on the calendar), that is probably unlikely.
How do you cope with the minor miseries of winter, like dry skin, chapped lips, and cabin fever?
Here are a few tips from OTC Safety about how to prevent and treat dry skin: