It’s been a bitterly cold winter in Melbourne (and much of the East and South of Australia) this year. Days range from three to 12 degrees Celsius. Winter weather started in May – so we’ve had a good two months of cold already, with two months to go! Brr! I really like the cold, but this year, I am hanging out for a break to the Gold Coast next month – longing for a little warmth.
It can be almost as hard to manage Ichthyosis in winter as in summer – perhaps because of the difficulty we have in regulating our temperature. I (and many others with Ichthyosis) prefer the cool weather though, but there’s still a need to take care of ourselves in the winter. Here’s how I manage.
As always, this advice is based on my own experience. Please seek the advice of your dermatologist before trying any new treatments.
Wear warm layers of clothes.
I dress warmly. During winter I wear three layers of clothes on my top half (a thermal, a jumper (sweater) and a dress/nice top), stockings or leggings plus sock (and a skirt or pants if I’m not wearing a dress)s, boots and a coat.
I also wear a scarf – again, usually made from natural fibres and gloves (though not every day because they stop me from using my phone!).
And I make sure my feet are warm and dry – I picked up some great leather boots on sale and got them in two colours which I wear every day. I was wearing synthetic boots for a long time and water seeped in, making my feet sore.
Keep my head warm.
I often wear a hat in cold weather – especially after I’ve combed my scalp – because I feel the cold so much through my scalp. I wear hats. I don’t even care about hat hair – I leave my hat on most of the day! I don’t apologise about wearing a hat at work anymore – I figure it’s my reasonable adjustment!
Order a different consistency ointment.
In the summer, my ointment (cream) – which is a mix of soft white paraffin and liquid paraffin – melts in the heat. I manage this – not by putting it in the fridge but by changing the consistency to 70% soft white paraffin and 30% liquid. In the winter, it doesn’t need to be as thick, and so I get 60/40 . The consistency of my cream helps it adhere to my skin. The pharmacist makes up my creams by request.
Wearing ointment on my face makes me so cold in the wind! A hat and scarf helps!
Just as the hot weather dries out my skin, the cold weather does too. It’s mostly the wind, but in recent years, I’ve noticed how much heaters do too. I stayed in a hotel in Sydney last week and didn’t drink as much water as I usually do. I had the heater on overnight – what a luxury! – and woke up very dry.
I try to have at least two litres of water a day, plus a cup of tea or two. And I make sure my hands and face are well moisturised – with paraffin (face) and pawpaw ointment (hands).
Boost my immune system.
My doctors have told me there is a link between a deficient immune system and Ichthyosis. Fortunately (touch wood) I am quite hardy and rarely get sick with a cold or tummy bug. But I am aware of my susceptibility to sickness, and so I get a flu shot every year and try to avoid people who are sick. I also eat good food – lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. When I get a cold I take vitamin c.
What about you – any tips for managing in the winter months?