In New England, the fall tends to feel short in comparison with winter. It’s never too early to start planning and preparing your skin for the long, cold winter ahead.
While the summer is primetime for sun damage, the sun doesn’t sit out the winter season. You still need to make sure that you’re protecting your skin from sun damage all year. In the winter, the northern hemisphere is a bit further from the sun, but there’s not a huge difference. While the daylight hours are shorter and the cloud cover is often more prevalent, ultraviolet rays are still making it to ground level. Thankfully, you’re usually pretty bundled up and protected when outside in the winter time. Jackets, gloves and hats will all offer pretty good UV protection, but any exposed skin should still be a concern. Use sunscreen or makeup containing sunscreen on your face and any other exposed areas. If you’re outside for extended periods of time, you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours for the best protection. Sun damage is the leading cause of skin cancer, and while skin cancer is often detectable and highly treatable, it still poses grave risks to your health. It might seem unnecessary, but protecting your skin from sun damage year-round is an absolute must.
Dry, winter air is moving in quickly, and it’s very easy for your skin to fall victim to its negative effects. Your skin produces different proteins, like collagen and hyaluronic acid which both do their best to retain moisture. But they are not perfect. Arid winter air can draw moisture from the healthiest skin, and wreak real havoc on chronically dry skin. So the best way to counteract this lack of moisture is to moisturize often. If you’re already using a moisturizer as a part of your daily routine, consider upping its strength if you notice it’s not enough. Heavier creams might be stifling in the summer, but are often perfect for cold, winter weather. You’re probably going to be dealing with chapped skin in the winter, which isn’t that common in other seasons. There are many great moisturizers out there for chapped skin on the hands. Your lips also might be suffering in the cold, so find a chapstick or lip balm that works well for your needs.
Dryness is harsh on healthy skin, and even worse for those with pre-existing skin conditions that cause dryness all year. Psoriasis and eczema are two skin conditions that can be exacerbated by cold weather. Psoriasis is a condition characterized by plaques of silvery, dry skin that can form anywhere on the body. It counts winter weather among its main triggers. Humidity levels are exceedingly low in the winter, and that makes any breakout of psoriasis that much worse. Psoriasis is also helped by safe exposure to UVB light, though the explanation isn’t fully clear to scientists quite yet. Since the days grow shorter in the winter, and we aren’t engaging in many outdoor activities, your skin might need some help. Many dermatologists offer light therapy, which is a controlled and safe way to treat psoriasis year round.
Eczema sufferers also have a harder time in the winter. Dryness, in addition to a lack of vitamin D are the main causes for eczema growing worse. Vitamin D is a naturally occurring substance in the body, but it’s production partially relies on sunlight. Much like with psoriasis, we know sunlight is a lot harder to find during the winter. Fortunately, your doctor can prescribe a vitamin D supplement that can ease your eczema symptoms.
For both conditions and general dryness, there are a few other steps you can take. Bundle up, but don’t sweat. Sweating can cause dryness, so err on the side of comfortable warmth and not heat. Have humidifiers running in the places where you spend your time. If you’re working at home or in an office, having a humidifier nearby is a good call. A humidifier is the best way to keep the air in your home or apartment from becoming too dry, as your furnace is circulating very dry air indoors.
Winter is coming, and with it your skin’s needs can change drastically. If you’re looking for more help and advice on winter dryness, don’t hesitate to call the Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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