Protecting the Skin during Winter
Winter means a break from insect related skin issues, but it has its own set of unique problems. The cold, dry air in winter leads to a major cause of delayed healing, which is the dehydration of exposed tissue. A moist environment is important for cells to migrate across the wound and for white cells to do their work cleaning up the wound. Suturing wounds that warrant it, and keeping other wounds covered with a protective salve, will guard against dehydration. The cold itself can also be a problem because blood flow is decreased to the skin in cold weather. Inflammation helps counteract it in the early stages of healing but once that calms down, in 3 to 5 days, blood flow is not as good as in warmer weather. This slows healing by inhibiting cell migration and can also mean the difference between death or survival of areas of skin that have a damaged blood supply from the injury. Because of the detrimental effects of cold, dry weather, wounds need more protection. Even small skin breaks in areas with a lot of movement, like the heels and pasterns, can quickly become painfully deep cracks. Keep an eye out for wounds on your small animals too and regularly check their paws for cracking.
- Good choices for holding in moisture on wounds are ointments and salves without a water base. Look for petrolatum, beeswax and oils.
- Help with temporary irritation and discomfort comes from ingredients like Arnica, Chamomile, Comfrey, Calendula, Witch Hazel, Plantain, White Willow Bark, Golden Seal and Vitamin E.
- Natural ingredients with antiseptic advantages include Tea Tree Oil, Oregon Grape, Echinacea, Gentian, Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin and all essential oils.
- Protect delicate new skin with the antioxidant benefits of Chaparral, Burdock and St. John’s Wort.