Skincare for Windburn

Windburn - I like to call it "winterburn" - is a wintertime skin irritation that resembles a sunburn. I saw the effects of it on my cheeks a couple of months ago after a camping trip to a cold and windy location with low humidity. My cheeks were rosy red and it really did look like a sunburn. Good thing I stayed on my skincare routine and had remembered to apply a moisturizer with SPF15 in it to protect my face from sunburn. My cheeks were back to normal within a few hours.

Luckily, windburn does not produce the harmful long-term effects that a sunburn will. What happens is that prolonged exposure to the wind removes the oil layer from your skin, causing it to dry out and become inflamed and feel like it's hot or burned. The areas most prone to this condition is the skin on your cheeks, ears, nose and lips, so protect that skin by applying lip balm to your lips (don't lick them, that will make it worse!) and keep your nose and ears covered with scarves and earmuffs. A ski mask can protect your cheeks, and so can a good moisturizer containing SPF, if possible. Wear sunglasses and goggles that wrap around to protect your eyes, and wear gloves on your hands. Reapply a moisturizing lotion as needed throughout the day.

Pay attention to your neck as well. The skin in this area is pretty thin and you should keep it covered with a turtleneck sweater or scarf to protect it.

To care for windburned skin, use mild soaps which contain moisturizers. A medicated skin cream can be used if the burning sensation on your skin is really bothering you. If all you've got is some lip balm, apply that to the affected area. It's better than nothing.

When you come inside from the outdoors, let the room temperature slowly “defrost” your affected skin. This will allow your skin to heal more quickly than if you were to warm yourself by the fireplace. Avoid hot showers as well and stick to warm water while bathing or showering. If you notice any swelling of the skin, it helps to elevate the affected limbs. This will minimize the swelling.

Your skin may begin to peel. If this happens, don't pick at it. Just keep applying moisturizers until the healing process is complete.

If the symptoms last for more than a few days and you haven’t had repeated wind or sun exposure, you might have Rosacea. In its early stages, it can be commonly misdiagnosed as windburn. Check with a doctor or healthcare provider.

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