RSR Medical Column for Lantana Living, November 2014
As temperatures begin to drop, heaters turn up and the war for healthy skin begins. There is no question that the winter months can damage your skin, resulting in skin that is lacking tone, thin and fragile. The winter months bring dry air which can remove the thin layer of oil that is vital to help our skin retain its moisture. If this moisture is not replaced and held in place, the protective barrier is lost and we can develop cracks that permeate through our skin which can cause itchy and painful conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. In fact, any damage to the skin, such as dryness and cracking, is similar to having an abrasion on the skin. It causes an inflammatory response, which makes the skin fragile and susceptible to infection and disease.
You can minimize the toll of the next few months, by preparing and protecting your skin, now.
SHORT SHOWERS & MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE
In the winter, many of us enjoy a soothing, long, hot shower to warm us up. After our shower, our skin is red, dry, and screaming for help. This mix of heat, soap, water, all contribute to deplete the skin of moisture. Keep the shower as brief as possible, and no more than warm. Remove your shower of all harsh soaps and replace with moisture-rich soaps and shampoos made for sensitive skin. Gently pat yourself dry to avoid traumatizing and over-drying the skin. Immediately apply a moisturizer which is specifically designed to trap moisture, locking it onto your skin surface.
If it makes you itch, avoid it. Just the thought of a wool sweater makes me uncomfortable. Every time you scratch, you are causing an abrasion which produces thinning and fragility of the skin.
We recommend that people add humidity to their environment which will help to protect the cells of your skin from losing moisture and help prevent flaking and itching. Adding a humidifier, or putting a large pot of water on a low simmer will add moisture back to the heated air.
Each harsh winter, leaves an indelible mark which we carry with us as lines, wrinkles, discoloration, loss of skin turgor and lax skin. Preparing your skin for winter is similar to applying sunscreen in the summer. Protect your skin now, rather than face a future of repairing your skin from the damage. It helps to visualize the enemy: heat, dry air, hot water, rough surfaces.
Winter is coming. The winter war is on.