December 4, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Robin Ashinoff, M.D. contributes to topics such as Dermatology.
By Brianna McCabe
Winter skin damage is ‘snow’ joke. Whipping winds and chilling cold snaps can leave you feeling dry, itchy, and irritated. When coupled with the moisture-zapping dryness of indoor heat, your skin is in dire need of replenishment.
Robin Ashinoff, M.D., chief of the Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic/Moh’s Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center and a board certified dermatologist at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, explains that without constant care, dry skin can lead to cracking, blistering, and bleeding. “These problems will only continue to worsen as winter conditions progress,” she says.
To keep your skin feeling soft and supple all season long, Dr. Ashinoff recommends the following tips:
- Avoid taking hot showers. Although nothing probably sounds more relaxing than taking a long, steamy shower after hours of laborious shoveling, Dr. Ashinoff warns that too hot of a shower can strip the body of essential oils and completely dry the skin. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends taking a 5-10 minute wash in lukewarm water.
- Baths aren’t the best, either. “When you step out of a hot bath, you probably notice that your skin is red, tight, and sometimes even a little pruney,” says Dr. Ashinoff. “These are indications that your skin is drying – and fast.”
- Routinely apply moisturizers – especially right after washing. Moisturizers better adhere to the skin and trap in existing moisture when the body is wet or moist. “Apply within a few minutes to maximize the effect of a moisturizer,” suggests Dr. Ashinoff.
- Use moisturizers with emollients. “An emollient is an ingredient within moisturizers that are used to soften and smooth the skin to avoid flakes and breaks,” explains Dr. Ashinoff. “These ingredients provide a protective film on the outer layer of skin and are critical for individuals battling conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”
- Look for products with lactic acid. “Creams with this ingredient will help you retain moisture,” says Dr. Ashinoff, “and can also help the skin give off a more radiant look.”
- Keep Aquaphor and Vaseline handy. If you notice that your skin is still overly cracked, individuals can apply these products to sooth and hydrate dry skin. “Sometimes, I even encourage patients with dry hands and feet to apply these petroleum jellies on the affected areas at night and to sleep with cotton gloves or socks,” says Dr. Ashinoff.
- Exfoliate. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the upper layer (epidermis) to encourage live skin cells to surface. “Once you scrub your face with some kind of exfoliator, such as a wash with sugar, immediately apply a moisturizer,” Dr. Ashinoff explains.
- Dress appropriately. Wear scarfs, hats, and gloves to protect skin from the cold environment. “Prolonged exposure to winter weather can crack and expose the skin and leave it feeling raw,” says Dr. Ashinoff.
- Humidify your home. “If ambient humidity is low and your skin is moister than the air, your skin will eventually lose its moisture to the air – it’s the law of nature,” explains Dr. Ashinoff. By installing a humidifier, you can retain that moisture and prevent your skin from drying out.
- Apply sunblock. “We all need to continue to apply sunblock every day even in the wintertime since ultraviolet (UV) rays are still very strong,” shares Dr. Ashinoff. “Exposure without protection can cause deeper damage in the skin and contribute to lines and wrinkles – and even cause skin cancers.”
“We all want to look and feel good, yet the skin – the body’s largest organ – oftentimes is overlooked,” shares Dr. Ashinoff. “It’s critical to nurture your skin to achieve that healthy, glowing complexion and to maintain the skin’s elasticity.”
“In addition to cosmetic purposes, the skin is critical to a person’s health. Having fissures or cracks in the skin allows bacteria and viruses to enter because that barrier isn’t there,” continues Dr. Ashinoff. “Prolonged dryness can lead to warts, impetigo (sores), and even cellulitis (a skin infection) – especially for those with diabetes. Take care of your body and skin: it’s the only one you have.”
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.