You’ve been enjoying your winter swimming routine, plunging into icy waters for an invigorating thrill and severe health benefits. But while the cold may energise you, it can wreak havoc on your skin. All that time in frigid temperatures and exposure to dry indoor air means your skin needs extra TLC this season. Don’t worry; with a few essential tips, you can keep your skin soft, hydrated and irritation-free even as you continue your chilly swims. Protecting your skin doesn’t have to cramp your winter swimming style.
The Challenges of Winter Swimming for Your Skin
Winter swimming can be invigorating, but the chilly water temperatures pose some challenges for your skin.
The cold causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing circulation to your extremities like hands, feet, and face. This makes skin dryness and irritation more likely. To combat this, moisturise daily, especially after swimming. Rich creams and ointments with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, and hyaluronic acid will soothe and protect your skin.
Long, hot showers after swimming may feel good but can further dehydrate your skin. Limit shower time to 5-10 minutes and avoid harsh soaps. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing vigorously with a towel. Apply moisturiser immediately after to lock in hydration.
The winter sun, combined with the reflective surface of snow and ice, can cause sun damage even when it’s cold out. Wear broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen, especially on highly exposed areas like your face, to prevent sunburn, age spots, and wrinkles. Reapply after swimming.
Wind and low humidity also sap moisture from your skin. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially in your bedroom. Drinking plenty of water will also keep your skin hydrated from within.
Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and allows moisturisers to absorb better. Gently exfoliate your body once a week to soften rough, dry skin. Focus on elbows, knees, and heels.
With extra TLC, you can enjoy the invigorating thrill of winter swimming without the discomfort of dry, irritated skin. Staying hydrated, moisturising daily, protecting from sun and wind, limiting hot showers, and exfoliating regularly will keep your skin healthy and ready to take on the chill.
Tips to Prevent Dryness and Irritation Before You Swim
Before diving into frigid waters this winter, avoid dry, irritated skin.
Apply a rich moisturiser right after showering to lock in hydration. Look for creams containing hydrating almond oil, coconut oil or shea butter. Reapply throughout the day, especially after hand washing.
Use a Humidifier
Crank up the humidity in your home. Dry air can dehydrate and chafe your skin. Aim for 30-50% humidity for comfort. A humidifier can add essential moisture to the air.
Remove dead skin cells with a mild scrub, chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or a soft washcloth. This allows moisturisers to absorb better. But don’t overdo it, especially in winter. Exfoliate 1-2 times a week to avoid irritation.
Protect Your Hands and Feet
Your hands and feet are especially prone to dryness and cracking. Slather on a thick cream or balm, like the Balmy Fox “On the Water” Hand and Foot Repair Balm, which contains beeswax, lanolin hemp and almond oils, then put in gloves or mittens when outside. Apply a rich hand or anti-chafe cream and cotton gloves before bed at night.
Limit Harsh Soaps
Use a moisturising cleanser instead of harsh soaps. And skip the hot showers, which can strip natural oils and dehydrate skin. Limit showers to 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water.
Following these tips will help ensure your skin stays soft, comfortable and protected before diving into chilly waters. With the right prep and care, you’ll enjoy your winter swims without worry.
What to Do Post-Swim
After swimming in frigid winter waters, your skin needs some extra TLC. The cold temperatures can strip moisture and natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry, irritated and itchy. Following a few key steps post-swim will help hydrate your skin and prevent discomfort.
Hydrate From the Inside Out
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from within. Aim for 6-8 glasses of water per day, especially in the hours after swimming. Staying well hydrated will plump up your skin cells and increase skin elasticity.
As soon as you get out of the water, pat yourself dry with a towel and apply a rich moisturiser all over your body, especially on your face, hands, and feet. Look for a cream containing hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin or dimethicone. Beeswax, coconut oil or olive oil also work great for sealing in moisture. Don’t forget your lips; apply a thick lip balm immediately.
Use a Humidifier
If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier to add moisture, especially in the room where you sleep. A 40-50% humidity level will help hydrate your skin overnight. Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent mould and bacteria growth.
Limit Hot Showers
While a steaming hot shower may sound appealing after cold water swimming, limit the temperature and time spent there. Hot water can further dry out and irritate your skin. Keep showers short, around 5-10 minutes, and avoid harsh soaps. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing vigorously with a towel.
Following these tips will help hydrate your skin, restore natural oils and prevent the discomfort of dry, itchy skin after swimming in cold winter waters. Your skin will stay soft, smooth and irritation-free so you can continue enjoying the benefits of open water swimming year-round.
When to See a Dermatologist for Winter Swimming Skin Issues
If your skin starts acting up from frequent winter swimming, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. They can examine your skin, determine the underlying cause of any issues, and recommend an effective treatment plan to get your skin back to feeling comfortable and healthy.
Dry, Itchy Skin
Nature’s Shield: harnessing oils, butters, and waxes for winter; maintaining radiant and resilient skin during the colder months. By using formulas containing natural oils like almond and hemp, the soothing benefits of arnica, and the protective barrier of berry wax, you’re set to face winter’s challenges head-on. These natural ingredients not only offer moisture but also provide a shield against the harsh elements.
Diving into winter doesn’t mean compromising your skin’s vitality. With these organic treasures in your arsenal, you can confidently step out, knowing your skin is cared for and protected. Stay naturally radiant, even in the chill!
Rashes and Irritation
Unexplained rashes, redness, swelling, if it’s due to dry skin, an allergic reaction, or an underlying skin condition, may require an appropriate treatment such as oral antihistamines, medicated creams, oral medications or light therapy. Oral steroids may be necessary to reduce inflammation if the rash is severe or does not clear up. However, first, you may look to natural products with ingredients formulated for sensitive skin.
See your dermatologist immediately if you notice blisters, pus, swelling, or pain around hair follicles or nail beds, especially on the fingers or toes. This can indicate a bacterial infection requiring prescription antibiotic ointments or oral medications. A fungal infection may also occur between the toes or skin folds. Antifungal creams can help clear up a fungal infection.
Cold Water Swimming: Doesn’t Have to Be Harsh on the Skin
So there you have the tips and tricks to keeping your skin healthy and hydrated even when taking icy dips this winter. Follow these recommendations, and you’ll be gliding through frigid waters without fear of irritation or dryness. Staying committed to a skincare routine, using gentle yet effective products designed for swimmers, protecting sensitive areas, and keeping your core temperature regulated are keys to success. While cold water swimming isn’t for the faint of heart, with the proper precautions, it can be an exhilarating and rejuvenating experience all season long. Take the plunge – your skin will thank you!
Balmy Fox “On the Water” – Natural Skincare for Swimmers & Water Sports Athletes
Products formulated using the best and most effective ingredients nature has to offer.
Nourishing skincare for water babies, large or small, our blends are filled with natural essential oils and butters, eco-friendly and entirely plastic-free. If you are a swimmer, you can be confident your skin is cared for, and the planet’s smiling.