Dry winter skin: Significance of relative humiditySun heats up the air and water bodies around us and water evaporates into atmosphere increasing its water content. This percentage of water content in atmosphere is called relative humidity. The ideal level of humidity for human skin to feel comfortable and be healthy is between 30% to 60%. Our epidermis is tuned to produce sweat during hot weather to cool the body.
When the sweat evaporates it takes away heat from the epidermis surface due to 'principle of latent heat of vaporization' and making it cool.
In such conditions, the evaporation from epidermis surface is greatly reduced as sweat does not evaporate as the air is already loaded with high levels of moisture. This causes great discomfort as our body does not cool properly. However the sweating and high activity of the sebaceous glands keep the epidermis sufficiently hydrated.
Low winter humidity causes dry skinIn winter the reverse effects are true.
If we are exposed to such draught of cold wind the moisture from epidermis layer gets removed causing flaking and scaling. The same dehydrated air also occupy our house in cold weather. If we use heaters in the house the air further dehydrates the skin. Further the fluctuation from cold air outdoors to dehydrated warm air inside the home takes away further moisture from epidermis.
Effects of winter air on stratum corneum layer of skinThose having chronic dry skin will find great discomfort, itching and dermatitis during these winter conditions.
Further there is no topping up of the moisture or lipids by the sweat and oil glands. So the stratum corneum structure gets affected and so also is desquamation process resulting in flaking and scaling. The regions of the epidermis having less concentration of sebaceous glands are the most affected.
Winter dry skin: tackling the problemThe dehydrated skin problem can be tackled effectively by following certain basic principles like not getting exposed to cold wild, using humidifier in living area and copious use of moisturizer etc. There is no need to live with painful, scaly, winter dry skin and there are many ways to alleviate the situation.
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Current topic in natural skincare: Why do we get dry skin in winter