Dr. Deborah Nunziato-Ghobashy of Family Practice Associates of Rockland, member of Highland Medical, PC, provides tips for keeping your skin in good condition during the drying months of winter.
November is Healthy Skin Month, a good time to fine-tune your skin care routine to avoid dry, itchy skin that can occur during the colder months. Dry skin can itch, flake, crack and even bleed. Dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
Don't let your bath or shower make your dry skin worse. Use warm—not hot—water, and get out after 5 to 10 minutes. Hot water removes natural skin oils more quickly. Use a gentle fragrance-free cleanser—enough to remove dirt and oil, but not so much that you see a thick lather. Blot your skin gently dry with a towel, and apply moisturizer immediately. These creams, lotions or ointments trap existing moisture in your skin. When you're on the go, carry a non-greasy hand cream and apply after each time you wash.
If your skin is dry, avoid deodorant soaps and skin-care products containing alcohol, fragrance, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acid. By not using these products, you will be helping your skin retain its natural oils.
Other tips for keeping your skin moist in the winter months:
- Use a humidifier to aid moisture to the air.
- Shave right after you bathe, when hairs are soft. Use a shaving cream or gel to reduce the irritating effects of shaving. Change your razor blades after five to seven shaves—a dull blade can irritate dry skin.
- When you head outdoors, wear a scarf and gloves to avoid chapped lips and hands.
If your skin stays dry even after making these changes, consider consulting your doctor. You might benefit from a prescription ointment or cream. It's possible your dry skin could be a sign of a skin condition that should be treated.
Other important winter skin health tips:
- Don't forget to continue using sunscreen on your face. Even though it's cold, harmful UV rays from the sun can continue to damage your skin.
- Avoid tanning beds—they have been linked with an increased risk of melanoma skin cancer.
- Finally, consider getting a full body screening this winter to check for signs of skin cancer. Your skin is at its palest in the winter months, making it easier for your doctor to check for irregular spots.