If you’ve spent time in windy conditions recently and now have red, irritated, and dry skin, the gale is likely to blame. Harsh external conditions can rob your skin of oils, cause inflammation, and make your skin look and feel itchy.

Your skin’s epidermis, the outermost layer that contains lipids (oils), acts as a protective barrier to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. However, a number of factors can damage your epidermis, including exposure to wind, freezing temperatures and, of course, too much sun.

Let’s take a look at dermatologist-suggested tips for preventing and treating windburn below.

What is a gale?

Gale is a skin condition characterized by red, inflamed skin that has been damaged by the wind. It develops when the skin is exposed to high winds, usually associated with cold temperatures, low humidity, and sometimes sunlight.

Strong winds can damage the skin in several ways, including:

– By stripping oils from the top layer of your skin, which prevents it from staying hydrated.
– dehydrating/drying the skin
– by causing the blood vessels in the skin to dilate.

Wind or sunburn?

Are windburns more serious than sunburns? It’s not necessarily worse, but it can lead to similar symptoms. In fact, sunburns are usually worse because they can cause long-term damage, whereas windburns tend to be temporary. A sunburn is caused by too much exposure of the skin to UV rays, which leads to changes in skin cells, skin damage, discoloration and often dryness. Of course, sunburn can also increase the risk of developing skin cancer if it is frequent.
Both of these skin problems can occur at the same time if a person is outdoors in both windy and sunny conditions. For example, if she is skiing on a cold, sunny day. Remember that it is possible to get a sunburn even if the sky is covered with clouds.

Additionally, windburned skin can actually make sunburn worse because wind irritates and damages the skin, making it more susceptible to sunburn. How to tell the difference between these two types of burns: So that sunburned skin is hot and swollen, windburned skin is stinging and irritated.

Symptoms and causes

Gales can cause symptoms on the skin, including:

– redness
– drought
– desquamation, flaking and peeling
– itching
– Burning sensations and sensitivity

Most often, gales affect the skin of the face, especially the middle part of the face and the parts that protrude outward, such as the nose and cheeks. They can also appear in other places, including the chin, chest, and forehead. You are more likely to have visible or severe gale symptoms if you already tend to have sensitive skin, such as if you burn easily in the sun.

What are the causes of gales?

Any activity outside in the wind can cause gales, including exercising in the cold in winter. The causes of gales can be the following:

– ski
– outdoor running
– cycling/cycling outdoors
– motorcycling
– Use of a quad on the snow
– Go boating or jet skiing

Skiing is probably one of the most common activities that cause gales, as it involves spending a lot of time outdoors in cold conditions, while facing the resistance of the wind. Activities in which you travel at higher speeds and wind resistance hits your face are most likely to cause the worst gale symptoms.

How to treat a gale?

The treatment for gales is to soothe the irritated skin and prevent further inflammation and dryness.

How long does it take for the gales to disappear?

In most cases, symptoms should subside within a few days, provided the skin is not severely damaged.

Here are ways to treat gales and help your skin’s healing process:

1. Hydrate your skin with natural/gentle products

This is probably the most important step: Always use a moisturizer that helps hydrate dry skin. In cold weather and when you go outdoors, opt for heavier, hydrating skincare products that contain ingredients like ceramides, which help replenish the oils that moisturize the skin. When choosing a moisturizer to help prevent windburn, here are some of the best ingredients to look for:

– Humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which draw water into your skin.
– aloe vera and oatmeal, which soothe irritation, as well as slices of cucumber on the eye contour.
– Thicker creams based on cocoa butter and/or shea butter.
– petrolatum (vaseline), which can be applied over lighter ingredients to form a protective barrier on the skin.

If you’ve been using the above products for several days but don’t notice any improvement, try applying a little hydrocortisone, which can help reduce inflammation, itching, and redness. If you still don’t see any improvement, it’s best to call your doctor, especially if you have generally sensitive skin and have another condition that causes redness or dryness, such as dermatitis, rosacea or eczema.

2. Avoid irritating and drying skin care products

If your skin is already dry and irritated, the last thing you want to do is make it worse by applying harsh ingredients to it. These can make your skin even drier, which will delay the healing process. Do not use skincare or makeup products that contain:

– alcohol
– perfumes
– exfoliants (including facial acids like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, AHAs or PHAs, until the burn subsides. These can all be beneficial when your skin is healthy, but they may be too taxing for sensitive or damaged skin)
– Microdermabrasion or chemical peels
– Retinol/retinoids (similar to facial acids, to be reserved for skins that have recovered from their burns).

3. Avoid scratching or peeling dry skin

Let your skin heal by keeping it clean and hydrated, then leave it alone. Do not attempt to use scrubs on very dry or peeling skin, scratch, peel or rush the process. Just leave your skin alone while it recovers. This will prevent you from causing scabs, bleeding, scarring or discoloration/hyperpigmentation. Once your skin is mostly healed, you can apply a serum containing antioxidants, such as vitamin C, to help repair it and prevent discoloration.

4. Don’t forget to protect your lips

Your lips are also likely to become chapped, red and dry when exposed to wind and sun. Apply lipstick or lip balm, ideally one with mineral SPF or zinc oxide and ingredients like beeswax and cocoa butter, before you go out, then reapply about all of it hours to avoid dry lips and cold sores.

How to prevent

One of the best things you can do for your skin is to keep it hydrated and protected before and after spending time outdoors in the wind and sun.
Here are some tips to prevent gales, as well as other forms of skin damage and irritation:

– Apply moisturizer before traveling in cold and windy conditions.
– Cover your skin with a cloth or ski mask, scarf or goggles if conditions are very windy or cold.
– Also protect yourself from sunburn by wearing SPF and sunglasses and limiting the time spent in direct sunlight.
– Keep your skin hydrated with the help of a humidifier, which helps prevent the skin from losing its moisture due to the dry air inside.
– Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin from within.
– Don’t over-wash your skin, and be careful not to expose it to excessive heat in the shower, which can strip away moisture and contribute to dryness.
– Wash off your make-up and cosmetics every night before bed, as they can cause skin reactions that make inflammation worse.


– Gale is a type of skin condition caused by damage to the outermost layer of your skin, called the epidermis.
– The epidermis generally acts as a protective barrier for the skin, but too much wind can strip it of oils, dilate blood vessels and lead to dryness and inflammation.
– Cause #1 is doing any outdoor activity in the wind, cold and sun, such as skiing, motorcycling, running, etc.
– Tips for treating and preventing gales include: use soothing moisturizers to keep skin hydrated, cover skin before going outside, apply lip balm and SPF, wear goggles and avoid to use irritating products.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.