Can cold weather be harmful for our skin?

Up to now, the UK weather has be uncharacteristically warm this winter, hasn’t it? I actually felt that it didn’t feel very christmassy this year because of the strangely mild weather. However, that’s just about to change. Believe it or not – apparently it’s going to be snowing this week! So what are the dangers of cold weather for our skin, especially if we are not dressed appropriately? I am sure we have all seen young girls in rather ‘skimpy clothing’ on a Friday evening in the middle of winter. Can the cold actually be harmful for our skin?

Well, as unpleasant as it feels (and looks), in most cases wearing ‘skimpy clothes’ in UK winter is not a real danger to our skin, unless it’s very cold and you are staying outside for prolonged period of time. However, prolonged exposure to cold has the potential to cause the following skin issues:

Acrocyanosis:
Mottled blue or red discolouration on hands and feet. This usually is short live and will resolve when skin warms up.

Chilblains:
Chilblains are caused by a localised cold injury to exposed skin. This mostly happens on fingers, toes and/or ears. Chilblains present with redness or blue discoloration, swelling and itchiness. In bad cases you might see blisters or even ulceration. Chilblains usually resolve within a few weeks as long as there is no further cold exposure.

Frostbites:
Frostbites may occur due to severe cold injury at temperatures below freezing. Early signs might be loss of feeling and color in your toes, fingers, ears, nose, cheeks, and/or chin. That means pale, numb skin! The skin may also feel unusually ‘waxy’ or firm. In later stages you may feel ‘pins-and-needles’ and if severe you might develop blisters and ulcers.

These cold changes are not very common, however what is of course very common is that our skin simply becomes much drier in winter. Your skin could even become flaky, itchy and inflamed, similar to eczema. So girls (and boys…), make sure to wear winter appropriate clothing at all times and moisturise properly before and after going out!

That’s my advice for the upcoming snow blizzard (I still can’t believe it to be honest…).