Revive your winter skin

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 12 2014 04:37:03 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2014 07:40:00 AM EDT

Yes, we live in Florida, but we had some pretty cold winter weather this year and it may have left your skin reaching peak dryness.  Your skin is the first line of defense against the elements, but outside cold and wind, plus inside heating and hot steamy showers equals winter skin.  Parched, rough, and broken skin can lead to more serious problems like infection—so skin care is crucial. 

Toni Haubert knows.  The cold weather has been hard on her skin.

“I notice that my face is much dryer. My elbows tend to get a little cracked, as well as my hands,” Haubert said.

The dry air of winter dehydrates skin, especially on extremities, which have fewer oil glands. Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob says the first thing to do is adopt a simple skin regimen.

“Put your lotions on immediately after you get out of the shower. You want to barely pat dry so there’s still moisturizer on your skin and then trap it in with the lotions or creams that you chose to use,” she explained.

Jacob says the best moisturizers contain ceramides.

“When it gets dried out, you lose some of that natural moisturizing factor and with the products that have ceramides in it, it helps your skin to make more of that natural moisturizing factor,”  she said.

Jacob also recommends adjusting your diet.

“Foods that are good for your skin would be ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seed, salmon, or walnuts,” she explained.

Also, try actually wearing your food, like olive oil. Studies show it soothes and conditions itchy, dry skin and removes makeup.  And when your skin feels extra parched, dab a thin layer under your moisturizer for an extra dose of antioxidants.

Jacob says that when the temperature drops, the humidity level plunges too. Turning up the thermostat doesn't help either.  Indoor heating strips even more moisture from the air and your skin.

Install a humidifier in your home to keep air moist. Set humidity at a constant 45 to 55 percent and the temperature at a balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additional Information:

For many people, the cold days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks.  They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and feet.  For some the problem is worse than just a general dry feeling; they may get skin so dry it results in cracking, flaking, even eczema.  Freezing temperatures, low humidity, and dry heat are all to blame.  Even if you don’t have a skin condition, you should take steps to keep your skin from getting too dry in winter weather. For example, you should add a humidifier to your home to put moisture in the air that will be absorbed by your skin and hair.  Also, use an oil-based moisturizer and sunscreen with at least SPF 30.  Heavy creams seal water in the skin and preserve moisture better when the humidity is low and sunscreen protects from UV rays.  Finally, bathe the right way.  Avoid deodorant bars, antibacterial soaps, perfumed soaps, and skin care products with alcohol while limiting your showers to no more than ten minutes.  (Source: www.webmd.com)

HEALTH RISKS:  Dry, itchy skin from winter weather can also cause certain health problems. Low temperatures and low humidity levels raise your risk of eczema flares.  To prevent the dryness, itching, blistering, and cracking on your hands, moisturize them and then slip on gloves before heading outdoors.  However, remember to remove them if you get overheated.  Sweat trapped inside gloves can make you itch.  Psoriasis can cause itchy, dry, and sometimes painful scales to appear on your skin.  The plaques build up on your knees, scalp, elbows, and lower back.  When you have psoriasis, your skin cells reproduce too quickly.  Soaking in warm water with oilated oatmeal bath products can alleviate itching. When your skin cells on the scalp rapidly reproduce and peel off, you could experience dandruff. Flare-ups happen more often in the dry winter months, and not just on your scalp.  You may also see them on your eyebrows, nose, ears, armpits, and groin.  Try switching between over-the-counter dandruff shampoos that contain different ingredients. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/dry-skin-13/winter-dry-skin?page=1)

WINTER SKIN TIPS:  If your skin does flare up, choose soft, breathable fabrics, like cotton instead of wool or polyester.  Loose-fitting clothing will also help protect your skin from chafing and becoming irritated. Psoriasis and eczema involve system responses.  Experts believe that many bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can make them worse.  Staying healthy during the winter by getting a flu shot, getting good sleep, and exercising can help prevent flare-ups.  Also, reduce stress.  A 2001 report in Archives of Dermatology measured stress levels and water loss in students without any skin disease after winter vacation, during final exams, and during spring break.  Researchers found that during periods of stress, the skin’s ability to retain water was reduced. So, look for ways to relieve stress like exercise, yoga, or meditation.  (Source: http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/winter-skin-tips-for-problem-skin#8)

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