Tips for Winter Skin Health to Combat the Harsh Weather
Guest blogger Richard Bezozo, MD, is president of MoleSafe.
Summertime isn't the only time to pay close attention to your skin health. As the winter months are drawing near, the cold weather poses several challenges to maintaining healthy skin. Not only are you battling rosy cheeks, chapped lips, and dry skin, but now the bronzed color of your skin is well gone, the tan has faded, and new moles, lesions and sun marks are now appearing. With the many challenges that come with the cool, dry weather, here are a few tips to help protect and winterize your skin, and optimize your overall health.
- Protect with sunscreen. Although you are no longer sunbathing, UV rays are still intense on both clear and cloudy winter days. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, specifically to your face, hands, neck and scalp, at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Due to the sun's reflections off the snow and conditions that occur at high altitudes, be sure to apply a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation when you go skiing and snowboarding, to reduce your risk of sunburns and other long-term effects, including premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer.
- Moisturize. It is best to lather your skin with a rich cream multiple times per day, especially soon after you get out of the shower, to seal the water into your skin. There are several creams and ointments available to fit the needs of different skin types, but some key ingredients to look for are products that contain lactin acid, urea, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum. Be sure to moisturize your entire body, paying close attention to the areas that are most frequently exposed when outdoors. You should also apply a moisture-rich lip balm with SPF to protect your lips.
- Cover your skin. Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun's rays, strong winds and the cool air that leads to dry, flaky skin. Protect all areas of your body by wearing hats, scarves, gloves, long pants and a jacket.
- Skip hot showers. Keep your baths and showers short, and the temperature of the water warm, rather than hot. Although a long, hot bath may be tempting to battle the wintery weather, hot water will strip the natural oils and protection away from your skin and dry it out.
- Monitor your skin's changes. Now that the tan has faded, you may notice new moles, lesions or unusual marks on your skin that have developed as a result of the sun's harsh rays from your time outdoors. Regular visits to your dermatologist, self-checks, and enrolling in an early detection surveillance program to monitor existing and new moles and lesions are essential in keeping you and your skin healthy all year long.
Your skin is your body's largest organ, so be proactive and provide it the proper protection all year long, and enroll in an early detection screening program to ensure lifelong skin health.