Take steps to protect skin this winter

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

During extreme temperatures it’s important to remember to protect one’s skin from the harsh weather. | Courtesy photo

If you wrap your pipes or cover your windows to protect them from the harsh elements of winter, why not do the same thing for you skin?

For many, this isn’t just a cosmetic or comfort issue, it’s a health issue.

Severely dry skin can split and bleed and become less effective as a barrier against infection, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Academy of Dermatology, which says the best ways to counter this is to keep as much moisture locked into your skin as possible.

But how do you do that?

Vicki Imm, a Mary Kay consultant, described the skin as being like a raisin and a grape.

“The difference is moisture,” she said. “It’s important to keep your skin moisturized.”

Imm said that a lot of people have to constantly put on lip balm for their dry lips.

“The problem is that there is dead skin,” she said. “Look for products that will take off the dead skin, and then apply the lip balm for better moisture.”

Imm said it’s important for people not to forget their hands since they are exposed to the elements as well.

“You want a product that gently exfoliates, takes of the dead skin and then is a super moisturizer,” she said. “Use it on your elbows, knees, heals and feet – really anywhere that needs it.”

Imm said people need to use a hydrating lotion.

“The dry air makes your skin dry out,” she said. “We’ve been selling a lot of lotion. It always picks up in the winter, but really it’s kind of a year round process because the heat does the same thing.”

The skin on your face is also vulnerable because it’s the only part of your body that is constantly exposed to the winter elements.

To protect your face, the AAD recommend that you wash with mild facial soap and lukewarm, not hot, water.

Here are a few other things to consider:

• Don’t overuse products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids. They exfoliate the top layer of skin, which is good for dry skin, but leave a new layer of skin that has no protection against bitter winter weather.

• Shower or bathe in lukewarm water. Hot water removes natural oil from the skin. Limit showers to 10 to 15 minutes.

• Use bath oils if you do take a bath. Use mild soaps. Deodorant soaps are more likely to dry your skin.

• Put moisturizer on your skin immediately after a bath or shower, while your skin is still wet.

• Instead of shaving cream, use lotion or hair conditioner to shave.

• Petroleum jelly is good for problem areas. It seals in moisture to help heal very dry skin.

• Use a humidifier in your home, which can help put moisture back into the air, which, in turn, will keep your skin from getting dry.

• No humidifier? Fill a bowl with water and put it near the source of your heat.

• Change your diet. Getting good-for-you fats into your diet from unsaturated sources like oils and nuts will also help skin look healthy and stay supple during the winter.

• Drink plenty of water, which helps to moisturize your skin from the inside out.