Windburn is a condition caused by exposure to strong and frequently cold winds for extended periods of time. Wind can remove the oils from the top oil layers of skin, creating chapped dry skin that feels hot or burned, and may appear red or swollen. Windburn can be confused with sunburn, and people may attribute “burned” skin on overcast days to wind rather than to sun. In fact, overcast days are still likely to cause sunburn, particularly if you are up on the tops of mountains where your exposure to sun is greatest. Both windburn and sunburn should be avoided when possible, although the wind tends to produce far less long term damage to the skin.
To prevent windburn, you should wear sunscreen, but emphasis should really be on covering exposed areas of the face. Sunscreen won’t really protect you much from the condition, but should still be used to avoid sunburn. To get full protection, wearing sunglasses or preferably goggles can help keep the wind from irritating the skin around the eyes. These should have UVA and UVB protection. Also, it can help to wear items like ski masks, which will cover most of the skin, leaving very little exposed to the wind. Hands should be gloved as these can can be affected by windburn too.
When you have windburn, common sense would suggest putting moisture back into the skin. It can help not to expose yourself to extreme warmth too fast. Don’t take a hot shower at first to help with the condition, and keep your face away from the heat of fires or heaters.
Instead, most doctors suggest using a mild skin lotion. Yet you should expect that your skin may peel, redden and feel hot just as with sunburn. Some people recommend using a bit of aloe vera, or tinctures of chamomile and noni to help reduce the discomfort associated with windburn.
If the symptoms persist beyond a few days and you haven’t had repeated wind or sun exposure, you might have another condition. Rosacea, especially in its early stages, can be commonly misdiagnosed, especially in the home setting. When symptoms continue, you might want to check with a doctor to rule out other conditions.
For severe cases, doctors may sometimes want to prescribe a mild pain reliever. Normally it just takes several days to get over, and most over the counter pain relievers will help with discomfort. If your eyes are especially irritated, consider using some “red eye” eye drops or even artificial tears to help reduce itchiness.