During winter our skin–is subject to the damaging and drying effects of cold, reduced oil secretion, and the drying effect of air-conditioning. Some conditions such as eczema, acne and rosacea and dry skin types are particularly affected resulting in redness, itching, cracking, bleeding and some discomfort.
During this time chemicals found in soaps, cleansers and cosmetics can have a particularly damaging effect. Thus, it is just as important to take extra care of your skin during winter as it is in the summertime and this includes the use of factor 30 sunscreen.
There are many ways to avoid dry winter skin and maintain soft moist skin during this season. Hot soapy water removes the skin’s natural oils very quickly, so having a long, hot
shower can deplete the skin of its natural moisture. Use warm water and reduce the time spent in the bath or shower to a maximum of 10 minutes.
Also using a moisturising shower gel helps to cleanse the skin and lock in the skins natural emollients. Mild soaps have added oils and fats. These are beneficial because they have extra amounts of fatty acids (e.g. lanolin). Moisturise immediately after your bath or shower. Moisturising while the skin is still slightly wet traps the moisture in and helps to reduce water loss. Moisturise generously several times a day, with an oil-based cream.
Look for ingredients such as glycerin, mineral oil, essential oils or linoleic acid, which act to prevent moisture loss. Moisturisers containing alphahydroxy acid and urea help to soften the skin and remove surface scale.
If dryness is severe specific moisturisers can be recommended by your Doctor.
Lips also need to be protected as they are easily prone to dryness, cracking and bleeding. Use a lip balm or sunscreen. For flaky, dry lips, a cream with a vitamin A derivative (retinol) will help reduce the accumulation of dry dead skin.
Exposed areas such as the face and hands are most affected by the elements, so focus on extra protection for these areas. The hands and feet have fewer sebaceous glands and are therefore naturally less oily than the rest of the body.
Although woolly jumpers keep you nice and warm, they can be very irritating and can exacerbate dry, itchy skin. Instead, try to wear layers of other natural fibres (e.g. cotton or silk) which allow the skin to breathe and avoid overheating and sweating. In addition, try to avoid washing your clothes with detergents containing perfumes.
When going outdoors, remember to wear gloves to protect hands from the bitter cold winds. If your clothes, especially socks and gloves become damp, remove them immediately as they can irritate the skin.
The weather conditions experienced in Australia tend to be harsh and relentless to our complexion, regardless of the season. Yet it is important to take preventative care to avoid skin irritations or to exacerbate existing conditions.
If you would like further information on skin care or for a consultation, please contact the
For Dr Frank Vella, Cosmetic Physician.