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Windburn: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Ever felt a burning sensation on your skin along with redness after spending too much time on the outsides in the cold wind? You may be having windburn then. Windburn is a condition that causes redness of the skin, caused due to exposure from cold winds. You can get windburn after spending too much time outside, in the cold and windy air.

Windburn occurs because the cold wind and the speed of the wind irritate the skin due to the low humidity and removes a thin layer of fat molecules from the skin that normally moisturises it as well as help filter the ultra-violet rays of the sun [1] .

Your skin is susceptible to breaking in the cold weather because your skin is dryer and breaks easily. Windburn can occur on both sunny and cloudy days. There have been arguments that windburn is only caused by the drying effects of the wind but others argue that sunburn also contributes to the redness of the skin [2] .

Causes Of Windburn

One of the most suspected causes of windburn is sunburn. Both the terms are often used interchangeably because windburn is caused by sun rays and the ultraviolet rays that penetrate through clouds [3] .

Windburn is caused when your skin loses the natural oils from extreme cold, dry air. It is also pointed out that the wind itself can reduce the amount of natural protection your skin has against UV rays.

Some of the other causes of windburn are underlying skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema [4] .

Symptoms Of Windburn

The signs of this condition are similar to that of sunburn. The symptoms are as follows[5] :

  • Reddened skin
  • Tender skin
  • Burning sensation on the skin
  • Peeling of skin
  • Swelling
  • Extremely dry skin

Treatment For Windburn

The medical care provided for this condition includes replenishing your skin's moisture while also reducing any pain. Medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen) can help reduce the pain and swelling [6] .

Pain medications, aspirin, ibuprofen, and anti-inflammatory medicines can help to improve the healing process as well.

Lukewarm water can be used to decrease the burn, however, avoid using it for a longer period because it will strip away even more moisture from the skin and prolong the healing process [7] . While using moisturisers for your skin, make sure they are fragrance-free to reduce irritation.

For dry lips, use moisturising lip balms, drink plenty of water, avoid hot beverages, avoid spicy foods, apply an emollient cream and do not pick at your lips[8] .

Here are some ways to prevent windburn [9] .

FAQs On Windburn

Q. How long will it take to heal?

A. The amount of time it takes your skin to heal from windburn largely depends on the severity. As is the case with sunburn, you'll likely feel less pain and swelling after a couple of days. The redness will go away after a few days, and your skin may peel afterwards.

Q. Does Vaseline help windburn?

A. Yes.

Q. How long does it take a burn to stop burning?

A. Minor burns will usually heal without additional treatment and within 48 hours.

Q. Does sunscreen stop windburn?

A. Yes. Using sunscreen is extremely beneficial in preventing windburn.

View Article References
  1. [1] Crew, W. H., & Whittle, C. H. (1936). Sunburn and windburn. Science, 84(2179), 309-310.
  2. [2] Gates, F. C. (1915). Wind Burn in Amorphophallus. Botanical Gazette, 60(5), 414-414.
  3. [3] Krasnosel'skaia-Maksimova, T. A., & Kondo, I. N. (1933). Fiziologicheskii analiz zakhvata pri pomoshchi ikusstvennogo sukhoveia (Physiological analysis of wind burn by means of artificial dry wind.) Trudy Prikl. Bot. i Selek. Bui. Appl. Bot. and Plant Breed., Ser. III. Phys., Biochem. & Anat.'Plants, 3, 191-215.
  4. [4] FRANCON, F., & LEBLANC, G. (1961). Lesion of the hand with cubital windburn and vermilion erythema in a case of spondylarthritis ankylpoietica. Revue du rhumatisme et des maladies osteo-articulaires, 28, 662.
  5. [5] Zelenskii, M. A., & Zalenskaya-Novominskaya, O. B. (1984). Functions of exterior floral glumes and pericarps in winter rye caryopses and their use in breeding for resistance to hot-wind burn of grain. Soviet agricultural sciences (USA).
  6. [6] Kozlowski, T. (1976). Water supply and leaf shedding. Soil water measurements, plant responses, and breeding for drought resistance, 4, 191-231.
  7. [7] Lin, L., Wei, M., Xiao, S., Xu, X., Hu, Z., Qiu, J., ... & Yuan, L. (2000). The influence of external stimulation on content and quality of volatile oil in Lignun Santali albi. Zhong yao cai= Zhongyaocai= Journal of Chinese medicinal materials, 23(3), 152-154.
  8. [8] Owens, D. W., Knox, J. M., Hudson, H. T., & Troll, D. (1974). Influence of wind on ultraviolet injury. Archives of dermatology, 109(2), 200-201.
  9. [9] Friedman, E. H. (1988). Paula Olinger," Images of Transformation in Traditional Hispanic Poetry"(Book Review). Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, 22(3), 139.

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