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If you’ve got the winter blues, part of it may be caused by the way your skin is reacting to the cold weather. Maybe the red nose worked for Rudolf, but that was only after he suffered severe emotional damage from all those other reindeer bullies. So let’s leave the red nose to Rudolph and talk about some real ways of addressing our top winter skin problems.
Rosacea in the Winter
Rosacea usually affects the central third of the face, especially across the nose. Characteristics include a tendency toward flushed skin, fine red lines or tiny pimples, and swollen red eyelids that can worsen after consumption of alcohol and spicy foods and exposure to emotional stress and heat. Rosacea may be mistaken for a simple ‘rosy glow’ or an acne outbreak. However, unlike simple redness and pimples, rosacea tends to get worse over time, eventually causing the skin to thicken.
Sunlight, cold temperatures and heat can all trigger rosacea, as can the consumption of red wine, hot caffeinated drinks, citrus fruit, spicy food and certain cheeses. Sound like your Christmas menu? Take heart, with daily use of hypoallergenic moisturizer, and medication, the effects of rosacea can be minimized. If you are suffering from rosacea, be gentle when cleansing your skin. Look for something low foaming, creamy, and free of fragrance and soap. When facing the outdoor elements, be sure to don a nice, soft scarf to protect your face from the winter elements. Use a humidifier when indoors to reduce the drying effect of indoor heating.
Acne In the Winter
Acne breakouts occur when the oil glands in the skin produce too much oil and cause the skin to shed too many dead cells. This can clog follicles, invite bacteria, and cause the swelling associated with whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. If you have the breakout blues this winter, there are over the counter or prescription treatments to keep oil flowing without blocking pores. However, in the winter the combination of these with the indoor heat may cause skin to dry out and flake, creating another problem.
If you find that you’re starting to flake, you may want to cut down on your topical medications or ask your dermatologist to alter your treatment regimen. You may also want to try switching to a mild cleanser and avoid products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. In addition, try using a moisturizer labeled as “noncomedegenic,” which means it is less likely to clog your pores. In addition, drink plenty of water.
General Skin Care
It is important to realize that in establishing a winter skin care routine, there is no “one size fits all.” Many people switch to oil based moisturizers in the winter to help maintain moisture, but this may not work for people with acne or rosacea. These people may want to stick to oils like almond, avocado, and mineral oil, which don’t clog pores.
Make sure not to neglect the skin on your hands, which is thinner than on other parts of the body and doesn’t have many oil glands. Wear gloves and socks outside and shed wet gloves immediately upon coming inside. Avoid taking hot baths with can break down the lipid barrier in your skin and consider adding hypoallergenic oils to your bathwater.
Keep in mind that the sun still shines in the colder weather. For most people, an SPF 30 sunscreen should be sufficient, but keep in mind, ultraviolet radiation is more intense at high altitudes, so skiers and snowboarders may want to go a little higher.
If you’ve had it with winter skin, we hope this has been helpful. Let us know how you deal with the consequences of winter weather. We love to hear from you!