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Common winter skin conditions and how to prevent them

When it comes to maintaining healthy skin, winter can get a bad rap. It’s not the season itself that’s the culprit, but often the environment that we create to combat the cold. Heating systems causes the humidity to lower, sapping the moisture from the skin. It’s also a time when people tend to soak in hot baths or lounge in front of the heater or open fire, often leading to skin that’s dry, flaky and irritated.

Here are a few common skin conditions that are triggered by winter conditions, and how you can avoid triggers for flare-ups:


Rosacea isn’t directly connected to winter, but there are a number of factors that can exacerbate this condition throughout the cooler months. Rosacea symptoms often vary between individuals, but common symptoms include flushing and facial redness, thickened or bumpy skin, or visible blood vessels, as well as swelling, itching, stinging and dry skin.

Exposure to sunlight is a common trigger for people with rosacea. Because the days tend to be shorter and less sunny, many people fail to adequately protect their skin from sun exposure. To prevent a rosacea flare-up, be sure to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily, ideally with an SPF of 30 or higher. You may also wish to wear a hat and scarf on particularly sunny winter days.

Another common trigger is temperature extremes. While this certainly applies to the cold, there are also occasions in winter that we expose ourselves to extreme heat. This can be standing close to a heat source such as an open fire or radiator, hot baths, or wearing too many layers indoors, particularly in heated environments such as an office.


Eczema is another condition that can be worsened during the winter months. Many people get eczema as children, but it can also occur for the first time in adults. Eczema symptoms include dry, itchy and inflamed skin, scaly patches or bumps, or skin that is raw, sensitive and easily irritated.

One of the main reasons that people experience eczema flare-ups in winter is low humidity. This is not only through exposure to the cold and often dry climate outside, but also in environments that are heated, such as the home or office. This dry air saps the moisture from the skin and can worsen eczema symptoms.

To combat low humidity, you may wish to purchase a humidifier or invest in a heavier moisturizing cream that’s appropriate for sensitive skin. Other tips to avoid eczema triggers include avoiding hot baths, wearing softer fabrics like cotton and avoiding harsh soaps, perfumes or lotions containing irritants like fragrance.


Many people suffer from dry, itchy skin during winter - and that includes the skin on our heads. Dandruff symptoms include a dry, itchy scalp with dry flakes of skin that often migrate onto clothes, making it embarrassing as well as uncomfortable. Dandruff is another skin condition that people experience year-round but can be particularly bothersome during winter.

Dandruff is caused by a variety of factors. Winter itself isn’t one of them, however much like eczema, dry air can dry out the scalp and cause itching and flaking. People who often wear beanies or winter hats to keep their heads warm may also find that their symptoms get worse. This is because it creates a layer of warm air around the scalp that’s the perfect environment for dandruff-causing microbes.

Avoid dandruff triggers by regularly washing your hair with a shampoo that specifically targets dandruff and keeps the scalp healthy. Where possible, avoid wearing winter hats for long periods of time or going to bed with wet hair.

If you’re experiencing dry, itchy, irritated or inflamed skin, visit your local Capital Chemist. Our pharmacists can assist you with finding a treatment for your symptoms as well as products that can assist in maintaining healthy skin through winter and beyond.

You may also be interested in the following:

Eczema Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Looking after your skin during winter
Kids Allergy Care
A smoothie bowl recipe for healthy skin

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Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.