How does the winter affect our skin on a cellular level

| August 1, 2022

Winter is well-known for being tough on the skin. Understanding what goes on within the skin can help in providing it with appropriate care. Education is key to addressing and restoring winter-weary skin, back to balance.

Introduction to the Extracellular Matrix

The Extracellular Matrix (ECM) refers to the non-cellular parts within tissues and organs. This includes all layers of the dermis, with the skin being the body’s largest organ. The ECM facilitates essential biological processes as well as provides the physical structure for cellular processes to take place within. It is made up of water, proteins, and polysaccharides.

The ECM’s most famous structural proteins are Collagen and Elastin. In addition to these well-known building blocks, it is important to understand that the ECM is responsible for maintaining proper hydration. It regulates water retention through extracellular homoeostasis; the balancing of water inside and outside of cells. This is imperative; as without water, correct and healthy cellular functioning is impossible. When external elements interfere with the water available to the ECM or when there is a disturbance therein; an unwanted condition on the dermal surface is likely to manifest.

What part of Winter harms the Skin?

For the sake of clarity, it is worth distinguishing exactly what it is about winter which can create harm within dermal layers.

Cold temperatures,

Harsh winds,

Lack of humidity in winter air,

Artificial heat sources that further dry out air,

Higher water temperatures used for bathing (as this can strip natural oils from the skin),

General lack of hydration,

Friction and bacteria from winter layers.

Understanding Winter Skin Conditions

Number One. Dehydration – Dehydration is by far the most prevalent wintertime skin condition. It appears as dull, lacklustre skin that is droopy or sagging and whose surface is characterized by enlarged pores or a scaly appearance. It is more fragile, sensitive, and reactive. It is prone to breakouts, blemishes, increased areas of irritation and redness. Dehydrated skin is frequently a combined result of an inhibited Skin Barrier and a decrease in ECM’s ability to maintain/retain proper moisture levels as it should. Winter conditions outline above can all contribute to creating a chronically dehydrated dermis. Skin suffering from dehydration will experience structural degradation and display unwanted ageing faster.

To combat inadequate hydration’s disastrous impact on the dermis; one should ensure they consume enough fluids, protect their skin from the elements, alter product use as required, and avail themselves of in-clinic treatments when appropriate.

Non-invasive treatments which deliver deep hydration such as IV hydration and HA fillers, for example, support the ECM from within to work properly. As such skin structures receive support, cell function is robust, inflammation is diminished, and skin is naturally ‘plumped’. Fighting dehydrated skin during the winter months ought to be a high priority for all those who desire a life-long youthful appearance.

Number Two. Rosacea – This skin condition is characterized by patches of red irritated skin and bouts of skin ‘flushing’. While it is possible for Rosacea to appear at any time during the year; wintertime is the prominent problem season. This is due in large part to the fact that delicate skin’ balances are more difficult to maintain during winter conditions. Moisture levels decrease and inflammation responses correspondingly often become primary instigators. Skin becomes ‘stripped’ of necessary sebum and showcases the infamous pinky-redness and bumps associated with Rosacea. Failure to protect skin from sun and wind will contribute to dermal stress and dysregulation that precedes a Rosacea flair-up. The Rosacea cycle can become a challenge to break without professional assistance. Treat winter symptoms with correctly chosen moisturisers which contain skin soothers. Introduce humidity into the air and reduce the heat of water used for showering and bathing. It is possible to interrupt the flare-up cycle with an in-clinic treatment such as laser or a deeply restorative treatment. Properly moisturised skin will almost always be less reactive, flush to a milder degree, and retain its even skin tone.

Number Three. Dermatitis (i.e., Skin Inflammation) – The presentation of any type of inflammation on the skin is referred to medically as Dermatitis. Harsh environmental conditions steal moisture and precious oils leaving skin more susceptible to surface damage. Constant friction between winter layers and hair follicles can contribute to the issue and hot water and harsh soaps also often play a role. Affected skin breaks open and cracks easily. Due to the outside conditions, healing can be slow as rough elements continue to cause damage and provoke inflammation. Dermatitis is characterized by dry, itchy, rough, flaking, discoloured patches of skin. Sensitive skin and skin showing signs of ageing will be more susceptible to inflammation. Avoid inflammation to begin with or calm current inflammation on the skin’s surface by sustaining a healthy ECM. Moisture is essential! Restoring and retaining healthy levels will make a huge difference in visible inflammation. Nourishing skin will give it the building blocks required to heal and resist damage easier.

Number Four. Chapped Lips – Chapped lips are nearly synonymous with Winter as the Lips do not contain oil glands like the majority of the skin’s surface. Combine this with constant exposure to dry air and cold wind and it becomes simple to see how moisture evaporates out quickly, leaving the lips dry. Licking the lips repeatedly, certain food choices, and ill-chosen ingredients within lip moisturisers will only make the problem worse. To preserve lovely lips; one should invest in a lip balm full of emollients that help to retain moisture. Supplement moisture can also be provided directly with professional moisture-rich Dermal Fillers. Protect lip hydration when out in the elements via an appropriate SPF product as well as a physical cover such as a clean scarf when possible.

Rescue your Skin this Season

Don’t let winter weather set your Skin Goals back. Rescue your skin from wintertime’s harmful effects with some professional TLC. Harness the experience and expertise of Dr Clark and his SAI team. From dermal analysis, to product selection, to medically proven beauty treatments. Together you can combine science and active ingredients from nature to tackle any aesthetic problem and achieve a skincare personal best, no matter the weather!

August 2022 Special – Purchase a 3x Dermapen Package Treatment & Receive FREE 3D Masks after each treatment. Save R1850! Simply click here for the full details.

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Photo by Sunny Ng on Unsplash

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