If you are one of the 8 out of 10 women who live with an underactive thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s or Thyroiditis), winter might not be your favourite season. It is a commonly known fact that many people (primarily women) who have a thyroid imbalance feel colder than the rest of the population and suffer from very dry skin. Winters, in general, are a little harsh for the body’s largest organ, aka the skin, and there are added precautions people with thyroid imbalances need to take to handle their symptoms better.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune thyroid disorder that directly impacts the body’s metabolism by slowing it down. In basic layman’s terms, it slows down the functioning of your body at a cellular level. Since your metabolism controls the heat regulation in your body, in the winter months, an underactive thyroid makes you feel colder than you otherwise would feel. Hashimotos and thyroiditis also impact our skin in many ways. Apart from acne, many people experience dull, saggy and dry skin. These skin issues often get exaggerated during the colder months.
Here are a few ways to better take care of yourself during the winter months if you experience these symptoms.
- Check your Thyroid levels. Thyroid hormone production slows down further during the winter months. Work with your health provider to get your TSH, T3 and T4 at optimal levels.
- Check your vitamin D and vitamin B levels, along with your iron and ferritin. Optimizing levels of essential vitamins and minerals are crucial for the Thyroid gland.
- You will need extra layers, so don’t fight the cold. Just because the rest of the family isn’t feeling that cold doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Wear enough to keep you warm, get that hot water bottle out early and snuggle up with the extra blankie.
- Moisturise more – many with Thyroiditis experience dry skin throughout the year, and winters make many of the symptoms worse. It takes more effort, but moisture more often, and use thicker moisturisers for the cold months. Adding a little olive or coconut oil to your bathwater (for those still using a bucket) or applying the oil right after bathing helps seal in the moisture.
- Keep your room hydrated – Using electric heaters dries out the room and your skin. Place a bowl (not too small) of water anywhere in the room to maintain the area’s moisture level. Avoid sitting too close to heaters or using them too much. Layer up and snuggle with a hot water bottle instead.
- Avoid body products that dry out the skin – use soaps and scrubs that add moisture, not remove it.
- Speak to your doctor about taking Omega 3 and fish oil supplements, as both are beneficial for skin health.
- Soak up some sunshine. Not only do you get some natural vitamin D, but being out in the sun and in nature does wonders for your overall physical and mental health.
- Eat warm foods and foods that generate heat in your body. Bone broth is excellent for people with thyroid imbalances. This is the time to enjoy root vegetables that are innately hot, like sweet potato, potato, pumpkins etc., in soup form. Foods that generate heat in the body include ginger, turmeric, garlic, spinach, black pepper, eggs, nuts (especially walnuts), and spices such as cumin, fenugreek, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Movement. It is necessary to exercise whether you have a thyroid imbalance or not. Light exercises, walks, strength training, basic cardio and yoga does wonders for people with Hashimoto’s and Thyroiditis. Exercise regulates your metabolism and helps regulate the TSH levels in your body.
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