Dr. Q&A: How to Protect Your Skin Against Cold Weather

Dr. Q&A: How to Protect Your Skin Against Cold Weather

By: Yousuf Qureshi, M.D., Dermatologist

You might enjoy the fun of winter and cold weather, but it is not quite as fun for your skin. The blistery conditions we have been battling this winter can often lead to red, scaly and sometimes, itchy skin. As the temps drop, let’s increase our healthy skin regimens.

Cold weather mixed with the low humidity levels result in dry air, which steals moisture away from the skin. Throw in the harsh winter wind, and the problem just gets worse! To escape the cold, many people rely on indoor heat and hot showers/baths, but this just further removes the skin’s moisture.

Using more moisturizer than usual helps, but there is more to be done than just counteracting the effects of dry skin. To reduce redness and itching and to achieve youthful, smooth and healthy skin this winter, I recommend the following tips:

Use lukewarm water. Wash in lukewarm water – While you might enjoy a hot shower or bath to warm up in the winter, you should choose lukewarm water instead so you are not stripping as many oils away from your skin.

Moisturize. As soon as you wash, use moisturizer. Applying moisture to damp skin can help seal the dampness into the skin. It can be helpful to keep a bottle of moisturizer near your shower or bathtub and each sink in your house.

Choose wisely. Select your moisturizer carefully. Some over-the-counter moisturizers have ingredients that may actually further dry your skin in the cold winter months. When strolling through the moisturizer aisle at the grocery store or drug store, be sure to select a formula that has natural, nourishing ingredients. Some moisturizers I recommend are:

  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
  • Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
  • Vaseline
  • Curel Intensive Healing
  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  • Aveeno Moisturizing Cream

Protect your skin. While it seems most of us are in a rush to get from point A to point B, it is important to remember to wear gloves, hats and scarves to protect our skin from snow, cold winds, and even rain.

Don’t forget sunscreen. Although it is not warm outside, winter can be just as damaging as the hot summer sun. Our office has a selection of safe sunscreens for you to use year round.

Moisturize overnight. Certain parts of our bodies tend to lose moisture faster than other areas; hands, feet, elbows and knees. Don’t be afraid to slather on moisturizer to these areas at night.

A humidifier will not hurt. While heating systems dry out the air, a humidifier can bring moisture back into the air and help your skin from drying out.

Stay hydrated. With cold temps, we tend to turn to hot drinks like cocoa, tea and coffee, but don’t forget that your skin needs hydration from the inside, out. Remember to drink water. You could try a little warm water with lemon – it is both refreshing and hydrating! You can also find hydration from foods high in water content such as watermelon, oranges, apples, celery, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes.

To schedule a visit, please call 888-452-IRMC or visit www.IRMCdocs.org.

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