Ask the Doctor: Protecting Winter Skin
- Posted on: Nov 2 2016
Summer sun gets the most attention as a top culprit for skin damage, but winter can be just as harsh when it comes to the formation of wrinkles. Cold, biting air and windy weather outside and dry, heated air inside leaves skin vulnerable to the formation new lines and flare-ups in damaging conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. The good news is that taking extra care in the cold can limit the majority of seasonal damage. Here’s how . . .
Recognize seasonal skin conditions.
If you’ve had to deal with eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, you might already know that winter conditions can exacerbate the skin problems they cause. Psoriasis flare-ups are linked to lower levels of sunlight and vitamin D in the body, so the condition commonly gets worse in winter when both are in short supply. Meanwhile eczema flares in winter because it is exacerbated by dry skin, a common problem when humidity is low and the air gets drier. And even mild cases of rosacea can get worse with exposure to very cold or harsh wind.
“It’s important to recognize if your winter skin problems are linked to any of these conditions,” says NDDA physician, Dr. Melissa Costner. “A lot of times people think they just have dry, itchy skin. It’s definitely something we see more of in the winter.” If you know you have an underlying skin condition, Dr. Costner recommends making a routine pre-winter appointment with a dermatologist to plan for managing your skin in the cold.
Start with basic skincare, add moisture.
The first place to look if you’re hoping to make gains in protecting your skin during the winter is your own basic cleansing and moisturizing routine. As the colder weather sets in, switch to a cream-based cleanser if your skin is normal to dry, and use any products that might have drying alcohol sparingly – like lotion, toners or exfoliants. Dr. Costner recommends making a hot or warm shower work for your skin by applying a moisturizing cream like Cereve to skin before drying. “A hot shower can leach the natural moister barrier in the skin,” says Dr. Costner. “Getting into the habit of applying a cream moisturizer before you step out will help your skin stay hydrated.”
Don’t forget your summer skincare rules: SPF and H2O.
Just because it’s overcast and cold out doesn’t mean you aren’t being exposed to damaging UV rays. Always use a broad spectrum SPF no lower than 25 to protect skin from UVA and UVB rays. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. During the winter months you may be drinking far less than your usual amount of water, but your skin still needs hydration to stay wrinkle free. If a cold glass of water doesn’t sound appealing, think hot tea.
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