Protect your skin this winter

  • Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Rozier
Rozier

As the temperatures decrease so can the quality of your skin. Dry, chapped skin plagues many during winter.

“Lower air temperatures and low humidity result in drier air,” Dr. Rob Danoff, a family physician, wrote on Discovery Health’s website.

This also applies year-round to residents of dry atmospheres.

However, you don’t have to be in these natural environments to have your skin chap. If you like taking long, hot showers or baths, you might want to reconsider them or make them an occasional activity. That constant heat takes on the same effect that, say, heating your house can.

“The dry air causes skin to lose more moisture and become itchy,” Danoff wrote.

Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer may be good to stop the spread of germs but too much can be bad for your skin.

A reason for this is that certain ingredients – such as the types of alcohol in hand sanitizers – removes your skin’s natural oils, according to Discovery Health.

Age and genetics are two causes that are unavoidable, according to Stephen Rozier, Aiken Dermatology’s physician assistant.

“The skin has difficulty retaining moisture when you get older,” he said, because your skin is losing the natural oils that help retain that moisture.

When your skin dries, it is often accompanied with your skin flaking, toughing up, becoming itchy or cracking.

Your lips can also chap or crack, as well, according to the American Association of Dermatology.

Luckily, these effects can often be reversed.

In the winter, try to avoid turning up the heat and curl under a blanket instead. Take lukewarm or shorter baths and showers, according to Rozier.

When you get out from that bath, pat your skin with a towel only so much to make the skin damp. Then, apply a moisturizer. This will “seal in the water,” Rozier said.

Choices of moisturizer are cream, lotion, mineral oil and, even, Vaseline.

“Vaseline is inexpensive and highly effective,” Rozier said. He also added the substance rarely causes adverse effects.

If the thought is odd of spreading the petroleum jelly on you, the brand also releases lotions.

Rozier recommends creams over lotions because they are thicker and tend to last longer.

Avoid substances with dye or fragrances in them. These products are not bad once in a while, but all of their extra chemicals can impact you in the long run.

“The fewer the chemicals and the lesser the small print, the better,” Rozier said.

Applying cold, moist compresses can help ease the effects of itchy skin. Over-the-counter lotions and medicine are also available.

If you are worried about allergies, try your desired product in a small amount and in an inconspicuous place. If there are no immediate negative effects, keep up the process twice a day for a week. Then, stop.

If nothing out of the ordinary happens, then the product should be safe for you to use.

If there are any further questions, consult a dermatologist.

At the end of it all, dry skin can be avoided most of the time by just changing your lifestyle.

When a patient comes in, “I turn around and ask, ‘What are you doing to your skin?’” Rozier said.

You might find the fix can be simple and painless.

For more information, visit www.aad.org or call Aiken Dermatology at 803-649-3909.

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.

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