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Tyler Dermatologist: 5 Things to Do to Care for Your Skin This Winter
Winter can be tough on the skin. Less humidity coupled with cool temperatures can cause dryness and flakiness.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association says approximately one in four Americans suffer from chronic skin conditions. Cold weather increases the severity of psoriasis and eczema, and individuals who suffer from these or similar conditions are more likely to deal with flare-ups during winter months.
A simple skincare routine can lead to less discomfort and healthier skin. Tyler dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Holman has five key tips.
1. Stay hydrated
Holman first recommends drinking water. At least 64 ounces of water a day is enough to remain internally hydrated so the body has the tools it needs to be externally hydrated.
You can also stay hydrated through eating foods that have high water content. This includes fruits and vegetables such as melons, cucumbers, lemons, grapes, leafy greens, and berries. Spicy foods prepared with chili peppers are great coolers as well: the chilis increase circulation and cause perspiration.
2. Keep the air in your home hydrated
Turning your thermostat down to keep the air in your home moist or using a humidifier in the home will help keep skin moist, Holman said. Because the skin is the largest organ of the body, having higher hydration levels in the air essentially naturally moisturizes the skin.
3. Avoid extreme temperatures
During the holidays, Holman advises to avoid extreme temperatures. She said not to sit next to the fireplace and also advises against super hot showers as they can be hard on the skin.
While hot showers can improve your cardiovascular health, reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, improve brain health and sleep, one of the best ways to ensure your skin is ready for the winter time is to not take extremely hot showers. Showering with hot water disrupts the skin’s natural balance of moisture, stripping natural oils that keep the skin healthy. Using moisturizing body wash may help if hot showers work best for you. To prevent rashes and to stay hydrated, shower in temperatures below 110 degrees.
The long-term effects of not caring for the skin during winter months could result in dry, cracked skin, especially at the lower legs and lower back.
“It itches, it flakes everywhere, it doesn’t look good nor does it feel good,” Holman said.
Using topical products is another key to healthy skin.
“Protect your skin after you bathe or shower. I tell my patients, ‘You’ve got a two-minute window when you get out of the shower to get your moisturizer on, because then you can trap that moisture from your shower and you get a double benefit from it,” Holman said.
Products that are easy to find include over-the-counter moisturizers from brands like CeraVe and Cetaphil.
In the winter, Holman recommends a cream or an ointment-based moisturizer. Something with a heavier vehicle, like a cream, is better for the skin this time of year.
“It’s not the water that’s bad for your skin, it’s the evaporation of the water that is harmful to your skin, especially in the winter months, because when it evaporates, it takes some of your skin’s natural lipid moisturizers with it during that evaporation process,” Holman said.
Moisturizing before the evaporation has already happened allows for the moisturizer to do its job even better, she explained.
6. Use sunscreen
A common mistake most people make is to stop wearing sunscreen just because it’s wintertime.
“Folks neglect to put on sunscreen sometimes when we’re not thinking about it in the sunshine. Some of the worst sunburns I’ve seen are actually in the wintertime from skiing at high altitudes, reflection from the snow, and as a dermatologist, we recommend year round you wear sunscreen to protect yourself from UV exposure,” Holman said.
When the skin is not protected, UV is a known carcinogen and increases the risk for skin cancer. In fair-skinned individuals, the risk goes up.
“Cosmetically, it also ages your skin. We see both red and brown sun damage that pops up and pre-cancerous sun damage as well,” Holman said.