Tips for Protecting Your Skin in the Cold Weather
By Sarah Beggs, Dermatologist at Jefferson Health New Jersey
The leaves have changed colors, and the temperature is steadily dropping. While it’s a beautiful time of year, the cool, dry weather can wreak havoc on your skin if you’re not careful. As the moisture leaves the air, it also leaves the skin, making it vulnerable and itchy.
Luckily, with just a few simple tips, it’s easier than you think to keep your skin in optimal condition throughout the winter season. Try the following:
- Shower with lukewarm water for less than 10 minutes, once a day or every other day. Overly hot water, as soothing as it may feel, is known to damage the surface of the skin.
- Wash with an unscented soap or a gentle cleanser using only your hand. Avoid using a washcloth or loofa unless you see visible dirt. Pat yourself dry after your shower, rather than rubbing vigorously.
- Moisturize immediately after your shower with a hypoallergenic cream or ointment, such as: Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Body Gel-Cream, Aveeno® Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly, Aquaphor®, CeraVe® Healing Ointment, etc. These are gentle on the skin, whereas lotions tend to be alcohol-based and can cause a burning sensation.
- Moisturize multiple times a day – especially your hands, since they are constantly being washed and exposed to the elements.
- Bundle up when you go outside! Avoid wearing rough fabrics, such as wool, which can bother your skin.
- Protect your skin from harsh chemicals when cleaning (i.e., wear rubber gloves when washing dishes).
- Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the UV rays aren’t still out. If you’re going to be outdoors for a prolonged period of time, be sure to apply sunscreen.
In addition to dry skin, some people may experience worsened acne this time of year, which can occur for various reasons. The cold strips away natural barriers in the skin, allowing acne bacteria to grow. Also, with less exposure to UV light, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits, acne can worsen. These proper moisturizing techniques are an essential component to managing acne.
If you use acne medication, keep in mind that during the winter you may need to cut back on how often you use it, because of how much it dries out the skin. While it may appear to have adverse effects, it’s important not to make any drastic changes to your skin care regimen unless advised by a dermatologist.
Remember, when it comes to skin care, consistency is key! Don’t fall behind and try to use a heavy moisturizer only once a week to make up for all the days you missed. When you add proper moisturizing to your daily hygiene regimen, you can kiss flakey and irritated skin goodbye.