Winters make life hard for skin!
We’re designed for dry, sunny conditions and our Winters of short days, rain, cold and central heating make it really difficult for our skin to keep in good shape.
In Chinese Medicine there’s an additional factor too in causing skin problems at this time of year, and that’s the after-effects of coughs and colds. Chinese Medicine makes a link between the health of our lungs and the condition of our skin, so lingering chesty coughs leave vulnerable skin.
Like clockwork, this time of year brings into my clinic people with a whole range of skin problems. So far this week I’ve seen eczema, psoriasis, a painful and itchy fungal infection, chilblains, dry skin, chapped skin, cold sores and two people with acne!
So what can we do to look after our skin?
Ideally of course we would have started at the beginning of Winter! At this time we can put things in place to protect and nourish our skin and make it hold out longer! But it’s never too late!
A good skin cream is really helpful. I’ll include a recipe that I use for myself and my clients in my next post.
Getting enough sleep is important as our bodies mostly use the time that we’re asleep to fix themselves.
Eating a diet rich in dark green, leafy vegetables is good to keep our iron levels up, and milled flax seeds and fish contain lots of useful omega oils which help the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric is used a lot in Chinese herbal medicine to reduce inflammation and can take the heat out of hot, sore boils, eczema and psoriasis.
It can be helpful to take a low dose vitamin D supplement throughout the Winter or increase our intake of oily fish.
Breaking up the Winter with a holiday somewhere with some sunshine can be good. A couple of weeks of sunshine wouldn’t do much to help chronically low vitamin D levels, but it can help skin to repair itself and keep going a bit longer; of course taking care not to get sun burnt! Sea water can be really helpful with a whole range of skin conditions too from psoriasis to athletes foot and cold sores, so somewhere warm enough for a dip in the sea could be good.
As Spring starts and allotments and gardens wake up, our skin has another challenge! A rich, protective skin cream can protect our hands before we start diving into the soil! Really scrubbing the soil off exposed skin then massaging in more skin cream after gardening can stop deep cracks from developing.
For cold conditions like poor circulation and chilblains I like to massage in skin creams which are rich in warming oils like ginger, cajuput, cinnamon and clove.
Of course my love of all things to do with bees is going to make me advocate raw bees wax! I use this in almost all of my skin creams. It’s full of propolis and honey which have natural resistance to fungal infections, viruses, and bacteria. The bees wax itself is also great at forming a barrier to make vulnerable skin more robust!