Written by Ronea Harris, MD, FAAD
The winter months can be just as harsh on the skin as the warmer months. Here are a few tips to consider that can help you maintain healthy, smooth skin.
- Moisturize skin daily with moisturizing cream instead of lotion. Because creams contain less water than lotions, they often seal in moisture better.
- Bathe when you are dirty. Daily baths are often required less in the cooler seasons due to less perspiration and bacterial growth.
- Humidify the air. Heaters remove moisture from the environment which contributes to drying the skin. Adding moisture to the air will combat dry, itchy skin and hair.
- Use hydrating cleansers to wash instead of harsh soaps. Hydrating cleansers are often in the form of liquid cleansers which deposit moisturizers onto the skin instead of removing moisture from the skin. These types of cleansers do not foam or bubble as much as soaps do.
- Use lip balm multiple times daily to prevent dry, cracking, discolored skin around the mouth. Often lip licking attempts to moisten dry, chapped lips. This habit can lead to discoloration, dryness and cracking around the lips.
- Use sunscreen routinely. There are more clear days in the winter which allow more ultraviolet light into the atmosphere. Continue broad spectrum sunscreen use that is SPF 15 or higher. It's especially important when participating in activities where the sunlight can reflect off of snow.
- Avoid tanning beds. Although tempting due to the fading of your summer tan, avoid increasing your risk of skin cancer.
- Nourish nails and hands at the same time with a hand cream after each hand washing. This can help prevent hang nails and ragged cuticles as well as brittle, peeling nails.
- Avoid bad hair days by using a heavy cream moisturizing conditioner or hair mask regularly. Some say central heating may have similar effects on the hair as sitting under a hair dryer! Add wool scarves or hats and the resulting dryness can lead to frizzing and damaged ends.
- Minimize wool or acrylic fabrics directly touching skin. These fibers can be a source of irritation especially for sensitive skin types. Instead, consider layering with cotton clothing in between.