How to prevent windburn, a winter skin condition that’s often ignored

Windburn can make your skin red and dry. So, take steps to prevent windburn in the winter season and keep your skin protected.
Woman protects her skin in winter
A winter rash can be prevented by hydrating your skin well. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 4 Dec 2023, 12:00 pm IST
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We’ve all heard sunburn, but what about windburn? Well, windburn is a common skin condition that is associated with the cold winter months. While it shares some similarities with sunburn, it is a distinct issue caused by exposure to harsh and cold wind. The wind accelerates moisture evaporation from the skin, leading to dehydration and irritation. You can prevent windburn by adopting some healthy habits for your skin.

What is the difference between windburn and sunburn?

Unlike sunburn, which is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, windburn occurs when the skin is exposed to strong and cold winds that strip away its natural oils and moisture, explains dermatologist Dr Sonali Kohli. Both conditions, however, share symptoms such as redness, dryness and a feeling of tightness.

Woman touching her face
Windburn occurs when the skin is exposed to strong and cold winds. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

What causes windburn?

While the primary cause of windburn is exposure to cold and windy weather, there are other factors too. This includes low humidity levels that exacerbate skin dryness, as well as outdoor activities such as skiing or hiking that expose the skin to prolonged wind exposure.

What are the ways to treat windburn?

Treatments for windburn include therapies that prevent water loss from skin which would require a strong transepidermal barrier to prevent it, says the expert. Other options are:

• Rehydrate the skin with a gentle and fragrance-free moisturiser to replenish lost moisture.
• Apply a cool compress to alleviate redness and soothe the affected areas.
• Aloe vera gel has soothing properties that can provide relief from windburn.
• Steer clear of harsh skincare products and opt for gentle cleansers to prevent further irritation.
• Soothe windburn with an oatmeal bath to reduce inflammation and itching.
• Apply a honey mask to moisturise and promote healing.
• Use a humidifier to maintain indoor humidity levels and prevent excessive skin dryness.
• Consume foods full of omega-3 fatty acids for skin health.

How to prevent windburn?

There are a few things that can be done to encourage a healthy skin barrier and prevent windburn.

1. Protective clothing

As you get your wardrobe ready for winter season, make sure to add some wind-resistant and insulated clothes. These clothes will help to shield your skin from harsh winds. Also, don’t wear rough clothing, as the friction can irritate the skin, leading to redness and discomfort.

2. Use sunscreen

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, especially on exposed areas, to protect against UV rays and wind, says Dr Kohli. Choose your sunscreen wisely, so that it can help to take care of both sunburn and windburn problems.

Woman applying cream on face
Use a sunscreen to prevent windburn. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Lip balm

Keep your lips moisturised with a protective lip balm to prevent chapping. But make sure to clean your lips properly before applying a lip balm. You can also use ghee if you believe in home remedies.

4. Stay hydrated

Drinking water regularly is one of the healthy habits you should adopt to stay fit. Among various things, it helps to maintain skin hydration which is needed to prevent windburn.

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5. Limit exposure

Spending extended periods outdoors in cold and windy conditions amplifies the impact of windburn. The longer the exposure, the greater the potential for moisture loss and skin irritation. So, minimise prolonged exposure to cold and windy conditions by taking breaks and staying indoors.

Be mindful of windburn and take proactive steps to prevent and treat this skin condition. By understanding the causes, incorporating preventive measures and utilising effective treatments, you can keep your skin healthy and glowing during the chilly months.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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