It never fails: winter comes around and you can almost feel your skin starting to dry and crack. That’s because all the moisture is being stolen out of the atmosphere, something that can only be replenished by outside efforts such as bringing in a humidifier or moisturizing. But there’s another part of skin care that can be adversely affected by the winter weather: scars and wound healing.
Cold weather can negatively affect the wound healing process, including diabetic wounds; plus, the change in temperature can affect how you care for the wound, from drainage to dressing. Let’s examine how cold weather affects the wound healing process and subsequently scar formation.
Cold Weather and Wounds
According to the Wound Care Education Institute, lower temperatures can cause skin to dry out and crack (think: chapped lips and hands). On top of that, this is also cold and flu season, where the viruses and bacteria that cause those illnesses run rampant. As such, your immune system will attack and fight off these germs, which is great for the cold but not so great for open cuts or other wounds, as it can lead to infection.
The colder temperatures equal slower blood flow, which is a vital component of the wound healing process. When your circulation isn’t good, oxygenation of the wound site is made more difficult. In turn, you can’t as readily guard against harmful bacteria – not to mention that poor circulation decreases the ability of your tissue to regenerate.
Many people opt to just stay inside and avoid the cold; however, staying indoors usually means you’re much less active, which will impede healing due to decreased blood flow.
To protect your wounds in winter season, follow these tips.
Proper blood circulation and wound healing will require activity, so try to get outside as much as possible. Keep the area covered, with a loose dressing so circulation won’t be restricted. You’ll know your bandage is wrapped too tight if you experience numbness in the area, which can also worsen the wound. Stick with low-impact activities such as walking around the block, swimming at the local club, and taking a yoga class.
Take Precautions Against the Flu and Colds
You don’t want your body to redirect the efforts of your immune system away from the wound. Take precautions against contracting the flu or a cold by getting the flu shot, washing hands often, and staying away from places where many people tend to gather, such as offices, airports, malls, etc.
Keep it Covered
Keep the wound properly dressed, with antibiotic ointment that ensures moisture, which is a vital component of the healing process. You don’t want the wound to dry out, so regularly apply a moisturizer and use silicone scar gel products such as Scarfade to minimize the resulting appearance of scars from wounds like cuts and burns.