By:-Dr. Jitender Taneja21 Nov, 2017
Tight skin, rough knuckles, chapped lips? Say hello to winter, about to wreak havoc from head-to-toe. Here’s what you need know to keep skin happily hydrated throughout the cold snap. From your brows to your feet, here’s how to treat your skin – starting now.
1. Moisturise More
Your skin will become drier and often more sensitive with the onset of colder weather and central heating. Make sure you keep hydrated during the day, swap your coffee for green tea which has great anti-oxidant effects. Gentle cleansing is a must, you need your skin barrier to be as healthy as possible so that it can retain vital moisture. You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer. But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine. Find an "ointment" moisturizer that's oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as "night creams" are oil-based.)
2. Slather on the Sunscreen
No, sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun -- combined with snow glare -- can still damage your skin. Whilst there is less UVB around in winter, levels of UVA (or UV-ageing as it is known in the dermatology world) are still significant enough to age our skin. I advocate a sunscreen specifically with a high UVA rating all the year round if you want to protect your skin from its ageing effects. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they're exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time. As UVB is the wavelength that stimulates vitamin D production, levels can drop in the winter months and if necessary we can supplement with oral vitamin D3.
3. Give Your Hands a Hand
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
4. Grease Up Your Feet
Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.
5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks
Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.
6. Hook Up the Humidifier
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.
7. Ban Superhot Baths
Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy.
8. Monitor scaly skin for dermatitis
If you notice scaling around your nose and eyebrows in the winter months you may be developing a dermatitis thought to be exacerbated by yeast. Cold winter weather is also a known trigger. I recommend checking with your dermatologist. If you also use a very gentle skin wash and moisturise twice a day it will help. Sometimes an anti-inflammatory cream may be needed too for a short time, and your doctor can advise here. As with most skin conditions early intervention often stops them in their tracks.
9. Protect lips from ‘lick eczema’
Dry and chapped lips are common in winters and need a constant supply of moisturiser to regain their suppleness. So, always carry a lip balm with you, apply it each time you feel a stretch on your lips rather than licking them with saliva or removing the flakes.
10. Consider professional skin treatments
Winter is a great time of year for skin treatments. We always worry about peels and laser treatment in the summer months. With sun exposure before or after such procedures there is a higher risk of unwanted post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Autumn and winter therefore represents an opportunity. I would however suggest planning ahead, to make sure your skin has time to settle and be at its peak for the party season. A course of chemical peels can help to stimulate new collagen and restore skin glow. Likewise, rather than wait for summer, now is the time to start tackling unwanted hair with a course of Laser Hair Removal.