What exactly is windburn?
Windburn occurs when low temperatures damage the top layer of your skin and causes it to become red, dry, and sometimes itchy. Your skin may also peel because of the dryness. Some believe it to be the winter version of sunburn, as the sun rays pierce through the clouds or reflect off the ice and snow. Others believe it is the result of exposure to strong winds and cold air. Sunburn and windburn can coexist too! While there may be debate about the actual cause of windburn, when it comes to the effects, the consensus is unanimous – it’s not fun! Windburn can take you from relishing in the splendour of your kids snowboarding to crying in the corner, wondering where it all went wrong. That is why it is vital to know which steps best offer your kids skin protection on the snow.
First sunscreen, then fun
There are very few children in Australia, and probably worldwide, that enjoy having sunscreen slathered all over them, but some eye-rolls and a bit of laborious cajoling and whinging at the start of your day will save you tears at the end. And don’t be shy - the more your children look like the snow beneath their feet, the better. Sunscreen absorbs harsh UV rays to protect our skin and is your child's best friend in sunny weather, regardless of temperature!
As always, remember to apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out, and reapply throughout the day. Roll on sunscreen can be quite fun for kids to gain some independence with their skin protection. Of course, mum and dad might have to double check after!
Being SunSmart isn’t just for the Aussie and Kiwi summer. Most people don't realise that the sand and snow act as a reflective surface for harmful UV rays so your exposure may be much higher than you think. In fact, at higher altitudes, you could be exposed to twice as much UV rays than in the city. This is why it's super important that you have this sorted to properly safeguard your children while they’re on the slopes. While you’re at it, a dab of SPF50+ lip balm will prevent dry, chapped lips.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
Windburn causes the body to lose moisture resulting in dry and flaky skin, so drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated. If you are taking your kids skiing or snowboarding this New Zealand or Australian ski season, make sure they drink even more to accommodate the water they will lose through sweat.
Layers never go out of fashion
While you need to dress your kids appropriately for the weather, neglecting to account for changes in body temperature can lead to unwanted outcomes (very grumpy little people you have to put to bed that night). As your child engages in physical activities, their body temperature rises, and they may begin to sweat, chafe or overheat. Overbundling your kids can also lead to blocked sweat glands which again, is not fun. All these add to the symptoms of windburn, and your child may become quite uncomfortable.
Dressing your children in layers is a great way to ensure that they can regulate temperature by adding or removing clothing as needed. It can also be a lifesaver on your wallet, as a few staple pieces are all that you need to create several different outfits. SnowKids has a wide range of apparel available to make layering a breeze. Check out our SnowPow blog article on How do I keep my child warm on the snow? for more ideas on kids layering.
For kids skin protection, remember the face
When you take your kids skiing or snowboarding, it may be tempting to keep their faces visible so you can get that perfect photo. But keeping their gorgeous little faces exposed means little to no protection from the cold air. Plus, with activities like these, they will be moving against the wind, which can be harsh on their skin. A face mask or balaclava goes a long way in reducing the possibility of your kids having windburn on their cheeks. When your kids' snowsport experience is over for the day, a cap and glasses will do the trick. Reima’s Huhuu Wool Balaclava is a mum and kid favourite.
I’ve got a licker, have you got one too?
Dry lips drive my kids insane and I bet like mine, your kids cannot help but lick the dry area around their lips and mouth during the day. This constant licking can result in chapped lips as it draws more moisture away. Saliva contains endogenic bacteria from your mouth (natural to you and harmless in its natural environment) and can further irritate the dried chapped area, so kids may end up with a pesky bumpy red skin rash at the end of the day.
Use Vaseline as a barrier before the neck warmer or balaclava is put on to minimise this sensitive area from getting too dried out and chapped. If you have a drooling baby or kids with runny noses at the snow, try this in the affected areas under their balaclavas too. In my family, the top chest pocket is where a stick of SPF50+ lip balm can be found in any of the kids ski jackets. I would skip the tasty flavoursome lip balm options as this might encourage more licking!
So you’ve done your best at prevention but still find yourself driving home with a grumpy child with windburn. Now what? Well, you can try these remedies to ease their discomfort.
Moisturiser is a kid’s best friend
It sounds obvious, but with so many varieties of moisturisers available, it can be trickier than it looks. Applying the wrong moisturiser will only aggravate already sensitive skin, so stick to moisturisers that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Kid’s skin moisturisers also come in a variety of different thicknesses, with varying types of hydrating ingredients so it’s well worth doing a bit of research before you embark on your family snow trip this season.
Look for kid’s moisturisers that contain ceramides (naturally occurring fats in the skin), humectants (draws moisture in e.g. urea) or emollients (softens dry skin e.g. petroleum jelly, glycerin, cocoa butter). Ingredients such as shea butter, aloe vera and oatmeal can also be nice and soothing for your child’s windburned skin. If your child’s skin tends to be on the drier side, a thicker lotion will be helpful.
A Soothing Bath
Choose fragrance-free and soap-free products at bath time too. Now is not the time to include bubbles, scrubs, or fancy washes. Stick to soap-free washes over soaps, and bath oils over bath bombs.
Hot water may seem inviting, but a lukewarm bath for your child is the way to go to soothe irritated skin. Limit their bath time to 10 minutes, embrace them in a big fluffy towel, tell them you love them to bits and pat them down to dry off. Rubbing the towel against their body will only cause more discomfort, and the friction will drain moisture. Apply your chosen moisturiser within 3 minutes for the best results. Pop them into a nice pair of warm pyjamas and settle in some family time!
To the Laundry Room
The same rule applies to your detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry products. Stick to fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products designed for sensitive skin. For added measure, wash any new clothes before the first wear.
So grab your gear, pack the sunscreen, moisturiser, balaclavas, vaseline and start making some memories! You are all set for an unforgettable family adventure now that you have your kid's skin protection covered.