5 Ways To Protect Your Skin During The Winter

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There are a lot of reasons to lean into winter: skiing and sledding, drinking hot chocolate by a cozy fire, having an excuse to Netflix and chill all night long. But one thing that’s not so fun about winter? The bitter cold temps and indoor heating that can leave your skin feeling dry, inflamed, irritated and itchy. (Scratch that itch too much and it could even lead to an infection.)

But you don’t have to deal with troublesome skin all winter long. Make these tweaks to your daily routine and your skin can stay hydrated, healthy and comfortable throughout the cold months.

  1. Switch to fragrance-free skincare products. Soaps and creams that contain fragrance can irritate skin—especially when it’s already delicate due to the harsh winter elements. “Scented products that come in contact with the skin can cause dryness, irritation, itchiness and even allergic reactions, especially in children,” says Diana Flis, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Henry Ford Allegiance Health Center. “Instead, choose gentle, fragrance-free, alcohol-free options.” 
  2. Stick to scent-free laundry detergent, too. It’s easy to find laundry detergents and dryer sheets in fruity and flowery scents, but just like with your soap, that pretty fragrance can cause problems. Opt for laundry products that are fragrance free and hypoallergenic.
  3. Shorten your shower. A hot bath or shower may feel cozy on a frigid day, but both can rob your skin of its natural protective oils. To guard against dry skin, opt for lukewarm water and limit yourself to five minutes or less. When possible, taking fewer showers in the winter helps, too.  
  4. Moisturize damp skin. As soon as you step out of the tub or shower, gently pat your body dry with a towel and then reach for a rich cream (not a lotion) to seal in the moisture that’s still on your skin.
  5. Don't get lax about sunscreen. Even if the sky is cloudy and gray, you can still get a sunburn. This is especially true if you spend time in the snow, because snow reflects sunlight. “Winter is no time to let your guard down when it comes to sun protection,” says Dr. Flis. “Protect your face and neck with a daily moisturizer that provides an SPF of 30 or higher.”

Try making these tweaks for two weeks. If you still have skin discomfort, talk with your healthcare provider about other options to address your specific skin concerns.

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Diana Flis, M.D., is a plastic surgeon at Henry Ford Allegiance Health Center – Cascade Ridge in Jackson.

Categories: FeelWell