Keeping skin healthy through the winter

Winter Skin

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Skin health can be particularly difficult to maintain during the winter. Cold dry air is harsh on skin, and products that usually work during the summer months can be detrimental this time of year. Dermatologists recommend sticking to a routine that will maintain your skin health not only through the winter, but through the rest of the year as well.

The most important things a person can do to keep their skin healthy are preventative, according to Jessica Rachetto, Dermatological PA-C at Rapid City Medical Center. Protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays should still be a priority during the winter, particularly since some activities result in double exposure from both the sun above and rays reflected from the snow or ice. Rachetto recommends using sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Since your face is likely to be the most exposed, remember to use a lip balm that provides SPF protection as well. If you spend a long amount of time outdoors, remember to reapply your SPF protection every 2-3 hours.

Keeping your skin protected will do much more for your skin health and appearance than any restorative treatments, but that does not mean that there are no options if your skin needs a little boost. Rachetto says that products with vitamin-C are often recommended to patients looking to make their skin appear younger. Along with regular moisturizing and gentle cleansers, topical retinoids help to maintain skin health, reverse some signs of aging, and even help with acne.

Antioxidants and hydration are incredibly important for maintaining overall health and the health and appearance of your skin. It can be easy to overindulge during the holiday season but maintaining a healthy number of fruits and vegetables in your diet is key. There are common misconceptions that certain foods will have a negative impact on skin, but Rachetto says that there is nothing that “causes” an acne breakout for everyone. While some people can experience a breakout after eating high glycemic foods or dairy products, there is no one-size-fits-all diet to avoid acne.

“If you notice increased breakouts,” Rachetto says, “try and take note of any dietary changes that may be linked.” After an acne breakout, it is also important to choose a treatment that will not cause more problems. Many over the counter acne products can cause severely dry skin during the winter, so Rachetto recommends finding more gentle cleansers. A cleanser that is oil-free and noncomedogenic will be your best bet, particularly if you can find one that is also hydrating.

For general skin dryness Rachetto says there are several ways to return skin to a healthier state. Regular moisturization from head to toe is the first step. “Moisturizers we recommend include creams that have hyaluronic acid or ceramides,” Rachetto says, “both of which will help skin retain moisture and seal the skin barrier. The key is using these products regularly.”

Dry, cracked skin on the hands is a common problem during the winter, and this year is no exception. With hand washing and sanitizing emphasized more during the pandemic, Rachetto says there are a few simple things you can do to protect your hands. Finding a good hand cream to use after each hand washing is critical. When possible, Rachetto recommends using gentler soaps in your home. If you do suffer from cracked or irritated skin, Rachetto also says using a petroleum product like Vaseline right before bed will help protect the skin barrier and allow it to heal.

“If you’re trying these treatments and are still getting rashes or cracks,” Rachetto says, “it is important to see your dermatologist for more comprehensive treatment.”

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