Sometimes the world likes to kick you when you’re down. Take, for example, when you’re already struggling with feeling shitty from a cold or flu, and your skin joins in by freaking out too, leaving you feeling and looking less than ideal. Scaly, red patches around your nose and crepey, dehydrated forehead lines remind you just how bad you’re feeling, and mean you dread going back to work tomorrow.
When we’re sick, there’s a lot going on: our immune system is busy dealing with more important things than acne, we’re dehydrated, and tend to let our routine slip by the wayside to get in some extra sleep. Here’s some easy ways to fight off telltale ‘sick’ skin while you’re fighting off an infection.
Use soft tissues
Ah, the familiar burn of raw skin against tissues. The inner debate of whether to just keep sniffing or to give in and blow your nose (and shed tears doing it). From the get go, don’t be lazy by using toilet paper or something equally scratchy (like, god forbid, your sleeve) as a replacement for tissues. It’ll seem fine for the first day, but come morning your face will be so raw you’ll be flaking for weeks. Super soft tissues are designed not to irritate your delicate nostrils so they stay calm and flake-free.
Keep face wipes/micellar water hand
When you’re really feeling crummy, the last thing you want to do is get up and traipse to the bathroom to rinse your face. Stay fresh and clean by instead keeping a no-rinse product like a face wipe or micellar water and cotton pads by your bed. They’ll remove stale sweat and debris without drying – or tiring – you out. Just be gentle around your nose!
Moisturise and protect heavily
While you’re drinking your fluids to keep hydrated from the inside, hydrate extra from the outside too. As above, keep moisturiser within reach, layer your products and apply often throughout the day. When we’re ill, we lose fluids from not eating or drinking enough, sweating, and even the unglamorous stuff like vomiting. Our skin isn’t vital to life so as our bodies start to dehydrate, fluids are directed to where they’re needed and the skin is one of the first places to take the hit.
You might notice that if you wet the area around your nose after a few days of having a bad cold, it stings. It’s counter-intuitive but water – an incredible solvent – is actually the reason why your nose feels so dry. The repetitive dampness from a running nose paired with a dry tissue every few minutes repetitively hydrates and dries out the skin, removing surface oils and the protective layer.
To avoid the burn, skip moisturiser on the nostrils and instead seal with an oil-based occlusive like a carrier oil, shea butter, lanolin or Vaseline. This will act as a barrier between you and your tissues, keeping your nose hydrated sting-free.
Try a humidifier
For those times when you’re really too sick to do anything resembling skin care routine, a humidifier will not only make your stuffy nose feel better but it’ll do the moisturising for you! When the air is humid, it doesn’t to try draw precious moisture from your skin, leaving you to sleep without worry of dryness in the morning.
The simpler the better
Stay away from scrubs, acids and masks at this time. While it’s tempting to seek a helping hand when you’re looking less than glowy, you’ll just irritate your skin more than the tissues and runny nose already has. And definitely don’t try anything new – there’s nothing that could make a sick day worse than an allergic reaction to boot.
Give yourself a boost
And when you’re finally getting back on your feet, get right back on your skin care game with a hydrating mask and some actives to perk your skin back up. You’ll be back to looking like yourself in no time!