Wellness Wednesday: Keeping skin healthy during winter

SALT LAKE CITY - The falling temperatures may bring snow, but for many it also means dry, itchy, and cracked skin. Dermatologists with Intermountain Healthcare say there are easy ways to avoid these issues and keep your skin healthy this winter.

One of the first ways doctors recommend protecting skin is to keep it covered up when you go outside. It’s hard for Jack Frost to nip at your nose when it’s covered up, so wear long sleeves, hats, and gloves to protect your skin.

Experts say many of the winter skin issues that develop often stem from how people bathe. According to Dr. Bryce Desmond, a major cause of winter skin issues is the water temperatures while bathing. Although it may seem only natural to turn the water temperature up on colder days, experts say it dries out skin. The hot water can also inflame skin while stripping it of natural moisture and oils which help keep it healthy.

“There’s nothing more relaxing than a hot bath or shower this time of year, but it’s one of the biggest contributors to winter skin problems,” said Dr. Desmond. “Turning down the temperature and taking a shorter shower can make all the difference.”

Dr. Desmond also sees a large uptick in the number of patients with dry cracked hands. People are washing their hands more because it’s cold and flu season and they tend to cook more. Constant use of soaps and hot water is what leads to cracked and bleeding skin.

There are several other choices we make that dermatologists say can lead to aggravative winter skin issues. Here are some of the ways to avoid it:

Choose the Right Soap: Avoid washing with harsh and abrasive soaps which can strip your skin of natural moisturizers. Chose a brand recommended for sensitive or dry skin and look for products that say they are moisturizing, which will help replenish the oils removed.

Never Use Luffas or Wash Cloths: Brushes and wash cloths take off the layer of skin which is important for holding moisture.

Pat Dry: Wiping off with a towel can take off skin so dermatologist suggest pat drying and leaving the skin a little damp.

Use Creams or Ointments: Moisturizing a minute after a shower can help prevent dry skin, but doctors recommend creams or ointments instead of lotion because it has less oil and better protects skin.

Dermatologists point out in many cases people shower and wash too much which can also cause skin problems.

“In our society we tend to over cleanse and it can wash away a lot of the healthy stuff on your skin,” said Dr. Desmond “Unless your skin is soiled you really only need to use soap on your face, folds, and feet.”

Dermatologist also remind people wearing sun screen is an important step to protecting skin health. Even on cloudy days UV rays can still damage a person’s skin. Just because people aren’t on the beach doesn’t mean the sun can’t do damage to the skin.

Extreme redness or pain can sometimes indicate there is more than just dry skin or eczema at play. If skin problems persist or begin to worsen experts suggest making an appointment to see a dermatologist. Click here to find a dermatologist near you.

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