What are Some Home Remedies for Windburn?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer
A windburned man.
A windburned man.

Windburn, which causes chapped and irritated skin, is caused by overexposure to windy conditions, and sometimes it can be quite painful. The irritation results from the wind removing oils from the skin, and it can be very similar to sunburn. Red skin, dryness, itchiness and, in some cases, peeling, can all occur to victims of this malady. Windburn is commonly associated with skiers and others who participate in outdoor winter sports, but may occur at any time of the year, usually at higher altitudes.

Aloe gel has a calming effect on the skin.
Aloe gel has a calming effect on the skin.

Like many other problems, the best way to treat the condition is to prevent it. Sunscreen alone is not enough to protect against windburn, but it will help with exposure to ultraviolet rays, which may worsen the effects. Sunscreen with moisturizer may also help form a protective barrier that could keep oils from being stripped from the skin. Proper care should be taken to keep as much skin covered as possible, and a moisturizing lip protectant with sunscreen should be applied. A regular moisturizing routine may help prevent windburn also, as skin that is already well hydrated is less likely to be stripped of oils.

Windburn remedies that contain cocoa butter can help the skin heal.
Windburn remedies that contain cocoa butter can help the skin heal.

If a person feels the immediate effects after returning indoors after a day outside, it is advised to treat skin gently and not heat or cool the skin too quickly, which may damage nerves and cause the affliction to take more time to heal. The condition also causes an inflammatory reaction in the skin, and if possible an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen should be taken to alleviate any slight swelling. Keeping the whole body well-hydrated will also help speed up the healing process. The use of a heating pad or cooling pack is not advised when treating windburn.

Petroleum jelly may be applied to the skin as a preventative to form a protective barrier if avoidance of the strong winds is not possible.
Petroleum jelly may be applied to the skin as a preventative to form a protective barrier if avoidance of the strong winds is not possible.

The quickest and easiest way to treat skin irritation caused by windburn is to re-moisturize the affected areas using aloe vera. Aloe vera is a common succulent plant that is also used in the treatment of almost every other weather-related skin condition. It is widely available as an over-the-counter cream or gel, or as a very easy to care for plant, and the fresher the aloe is, the more effective it is. Sufferers may break off a fleshy stem of the plant to get to the gel inside and then rub it on the burn.

Remedies containing shea butter or cocoa butter, as well as vitamin E, will all restore essential nutrients to the skin to help it heal faster and may soothe skin as well. Petroleum jelly may be applied as a preventative to form a protective barrier if avoidance of the causing conditions is not possible. As with any health problem, if symptoms worsen or do not improve within a reasonable amount of time, it is advisable to see a doctor or other health care professional.

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Discussion Comments

anon326350

That's exactly what the aloe vera did: dried my skin up even more! Stick to shea, cocoa butter or petroleum jelly! Wish I seen this article before I dried my itchy skin out even more!

anon302798

Aloe vera gel is water based and depending on the conditions, it may take moisture from your skin with it as it dries up.

anon299790

As a long distance runner who lives at high altitude, aloe vera has the opposite effect and dries my skin out. What's up?

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    • A windburned man.
      A windburned man.
    • Aloe gel has a calming effect on the skin.
      Aloe gel has a calming effect on the skin.
    • Windburn remedies that contain cocoa butter can help the skin heal.
      Windburn remedies that contain cocoa butter can help the skin heal.
    • Petroleum jelly may be applied to the skin as a preventative to form a protective barrier if avoidance of the strong winds is not possible.
      Petroleum jelly may be applied to the skin as a preventative to form a protective barrier if avoidance of the strong winds is not possible.