It is common knowledge that it is important to protect your skin during the summer months. But, winter can be a difficult time for many skin types as well. In many temperate climates, the environmental humidity is lower in the coldest months. In addition, heating the air reduces the ambient humidity. How can you best restore skin moisture?
When it comes to daily hygiene, keep baths and showers short with warm rather than hot water. Use a gentle fragrance-free cleanser. After washing, blot gently with a dry towel and apply moisturizer onto slightly damp skin to seal in moisture.
Always use a cream or ointment for moisturizer. Lotions spread easily but don’t form that protective seal necessary in the winter. Look for ointments that contain oil or other soothing ingredients such as urea, dimethicone, glycerin, or petrolatum.
Lips are also highly vulnerable to moisture loss. Wear a protective balm both outdoors and in your home. Thicker, ointment-like products work better than waxy sticks.
Hands are also at risk for problems because of exposure and frequent washing. Apply hand cream or ointment after each hand washing. For more severe dryness and cracking, apply a thick layer of ointment before bed and wear cotton gloves to help moisturize overnight.
Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself from the sun. Ultraviolet protection is still very important to skin health. At particularly high altitudes and with reflective surfaces (such as ski conditions) it is important to apply sunscreen to exposed areas. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended.
You may also want to consider a humidifier for your home and for your office.
Using these measures, you should be comfortable in most winter conditions. If you continue to have problems, you may be dealing with a skin condition that requires the attention of a dermatologist.
Dr. Naomi Lawrence is a Board-certified dermatologic surgeon with Cooper University Health Care. For more information about dermatologic services at Cooper, click here.