Fibromyalgia & Sensitive Skin: 10 Tips for Coping with Winter Skin Problems
Is your skin more tender and sensitive during the winter? For millions of people, the winter months can wreak havoc on sensitive skin. For those with fibromyalgia, skin sensitivity yet another painful symptom in an already long list of symptoms that can flare up during the winter months.
While there may not be a way to entirely cure or eliminate this irritable symptom, there are steps you can take to help care for sensitive skin and keep the pain and irritation flare ups in check during the winter months. Try following these 10 guidelines to minimize irritable and sensitive skin this winter.
Protect your hands
For many people, hands are especially sensitive to winter changes. That’s because the skin on the hands is biologically less equipped to cope with harsher environments. The skin is thinner and there are less moisturizing oil glands in the hands, so they are more prone to dryness, cracking and irritation.
In addition to keep your hands properly moisturized with lotion during the winter months, make sure to protect them from the cold by wearing gloves during your outdoor excursions. Be sure the gloves have a soft, irritant free inner lining. Cotton or fleece –lined gloves are great for keeping the hands toasty warm without irritation.
Limit skin exposure to cold
Did you know exposure to cold air accelerates the aging process? As if that weren’t reason enough to limit our exposure to cold during the winter months – the cold air also dries out our skin. It can cause rawness and irritation, often resulting in irritating and painful rashes. During the winter months, limit your skins direct exposure to the cold as much as possible. This includes staying out of the elements, if possible, as well as dressing appropriately for the elements while outside (which we’ll discuss more in the next section).
Dress for the weather
If you live in an area where the winter temperatures regularly dip to freezing or below, dressing for the cold is key to protecting sensitive skin from becoming further aggravated. In addition to dressing warmly to protect the skin from exposure, make sure your clothes stay dry. Change out of wet or damp socks, gloves or other clothing as quickly as possible. Damp clothing can cause further irritation and itching, as well as lead to other skin problems.
Bathe with lukewarm water (not hot water)
I know – those hot baths and showers can feel like a godsend during the cold winter months. They’re relaxing and can relieve soreness and tenderness, but they can also do a number on your skin if the water is too hot. Hot water breaks down your skin surface lipid – a thin film that protects the skin from the environment. This breakdown can lead to dryness, cracking, inflammation, redness, itchiness and more. So in lieu of a hot bath or shower, take a bath or shower with lukewarm water instead. Don’t forget to throw in some baking soda or oatmeal to help relieve any itchiness and soothe your dry skin!
Be gentle, and avoid these…
When it comes to sensitive skin, the everyday products you use can make a big difference. When it comes to soaps, moisturizes, cleansers and anything else you put on your skin – look for products designed for sensitive skin. Avoid the following products which could be potentially damaging to dry or damaged skin:
- Abrasive scrubs
- Harsh soaps, especially bars soaps or cleaners
- Scrub mittens
- Astringents and toners with harsh ingredients like alcohol or menthol
Watch out for these potential irritants in cosmetic ingredients…
Your cosmetics can also pose a threat to the health of your skin. If you think your cosmetics may be irritating your skin, check the ingredients label for any of the following potentially irritating ingredients:
Of course, you’ll want to make sure to moisturize as often as needed to help prevent the skin from drying out during the winter. We recommend moisturizing immediately after bathing. As mentioned above, avoid moisturizes with harmful ingredients. Fragrance-free moisturizers are your best bet as fragrance can be a skin irritant.
Use a humidifier
During the winter months our furnaces are blasting warm air into our homes and offices. This can dry out your skin quickly. To combat this, try sleeping with a humidifier each night or place a humidifier in areas of your home where you spend much of your time.
Put on that sunscreen!
Yes, you read that correctly. Believe it or not, sun damage can and does occur in the winter. The UV rays from the sun reflect off of snowy surfaces – causing snow glare – which can damage your skin. If you plan on spending more than just a few minutes outside, put on that sunscreen for extra protection.
Talk to a dermatologist
Finally, if all else fails, talk to dermatologist for professional advice. You may need prescription creams or medications; or you may have additional skin conditions that are contributing to your discomfort. Speak to a specialist to find out what else you can do to help cope with painful skin problems during the winter months.
If sensitive skin is one of the symptoms you’re experiencing as a result of your fibromyalgia, the pain and irritation can be intolerable. Knowing the best ways to find relief can make a world of difference in your quality of life and can boost the health of your skin. What tips or tricks have helped you cope with dry or sensitive skin during the winter? Share your advice with fellow fibromyalgia sufferers on our Facebook Page.