As Old Man Winter ushers in the holidays he brings with him a blitz of overeating, socializing, shopping and decorating and a little self-neglect. Last week I hurried to winterize the car, lawn, and house making sure all were protected from the winter cold. As I readied myself for holiday decorating I realized I was neglecting myself—my skin. My hands were cold and chapped and as I applied hand cream it dawned on me—we often winterize everything but ourselves. Here are a few tips to help protect and winterize the skin youre in.
Moisturize: Our skin can become dry and brittle as the dry winter air depletes our skin of needed moisture. Daily moisturizing is important and different skin types may require different moisturizers. Cream-based moisturizers are usually better than lotions for normal to dry skin types. Choosing the right soap is also an important part of keeping your skin clean and moisture in balance. I recommend using fragrance-free, moisturizing formulas, and avoiding deodorant soaps which may irritate your skin. For best results moisturize your skin immediately after showering, pat dry and use an oil-based moisturizer if possible. I avoid moisturizers containing alcohol or citrus that can irritate dry skin.
Washing and cleaning: Clean is good but we can overdo it. Limit the use of “hot” water, lukewarm showers or bath are best. The right soap for your skin type will help to avoid itchy skin. Too much bathing can deplete your skins natural oils. As mentioned above—apply moisturizers immediately after your bath to apply a mineral oil type moisturizer to the skin and pat dry.
Diet: Our diet plays a role in everything about us. Foods high in vitamins A, B, and C, help our skin in three important ways. Vitamin A—helps our skin re-build while keeping it strong. Vitamin B—helps our metabolism and Vitamin C also helps rebuild the building blocks of healthy skin. Vitamin D, your body has a decrease in Vitamin D production because of less sun exposure during the winter months. Omega-3 fats and antioxidants are important for every organ of the body and vegetables can contain large amounts of both. Spinach, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins to name a few. Another great source of antioxidants is blueberries and nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Remember, if you are taking any medications it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider possible interactions foods may have.
Sunscreen and tanning: We often forget the risk of sun exposure during the winter and yes you can still get sunburn in the winter. Use lip balm, makeup, or a sunscreen with at least a SPF-15 and a long-acting UVA block when outdoors. Tanning beds and artificial sunlamps are always damaging to your skin and can increase your risk of skin cancer. If you want to keep that summer glow, I recommend self-tanners and extra moisturizer.
We cant change the skin we are in—but we can keep it looking younger and healthier longer by protecting and feeding our skin. Listen to your body, if it hurts or itches and these suggestions do not help—seek the advice of your healthcare provider or your dermatologist.
Howard Baker, RN BSN
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