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Winter is here bringing high winds and freezing temperatures outdoors and warm, dry air indoors. The weather can take a toll on skin, removing moisture and causing skin to itch, crack, and bleed.  This can make skin vulnerable to infection, especially in older adults whose skin is thinner and more fragile.  Individuals with eczema and seborrheic dermatitis may also experience worse symptoms in the winter.

Maintaining healthy skin in the winter requires a different routine than in warmer, more humid months. To protect your body’s largest organ, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends some simple tips:

winter face 3

  1. Keep baths or showers short.  Limit your bathing time to 5-10 minutes using warm, not hot water.  Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser:  only a small amount is needed; avoid thick lathers.  Gently blot your skin dry with a towel.
  2. Moisturize immediately following your bath or shower. The moisturizer will be absorbed and work better if it’s trapped inside the skin.
  3. Use gentle skin care products that are unscented. Antibacterial or deodorant soaps and skin care products with fragrance, alcohol or retinoid can dry your skin.
  4. Apply cream or ointments:  they work better than lotion. Look for ones that contain olive oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter. Lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, glycerin and petrolatum are other ingredients that help relieve dry skin.
  5. Carry a hand cream with you. Apply it after you wash your hands.
  6. Use a non-irritating lip balm. Be sure to select one that does not cause your lips to tingle or sting.
  7. Be selective with laundry detergents. Use only those that are labeled “hypoallergenic”.
  8. Moisturize the air. Add a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air. Some home heating systems may have one built it.
  9. Always wear gloves. We lose heat (and moisture) through our hands. Be sure to always wear gloves when you go outdoors in the winter.
  10. Use sunscreen. Even in the winter, you should slather on sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to any exposed skin. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays that are present year-round.

See a dermatologist if your skin does not improve. Reduce your chance of developing an infection that may develop with cracking, bleeding skin.

 

Source(s): American Academy of Dermatology, Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin, retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin.

WebMD, Fighting Back Against Dry Skin, Fighting Dry Skin: Beat the Itch of Winter, retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/beauty/dry-skin-13/winter-dry-skin.

Web MD, Allergies Health Center, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/what-does-hypoallergenic-mean.

Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Hamilton County.

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Franklin County.

 

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beach scene

Photo:  American Cancer Society

It’s almost summertime and that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, and lazy afternoons in the sun.  Before you head outdoors be sure to apply enough sunscreen to generously coat skin that will not be covered by clothing – at least an ounce (or the amount in a shot glass).  Most people only apply ¼ to ½ of the amount of sunscreen that they actually need.   It should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so your skin has time to absorb the lotion.  Be sure to use a broad spectrum water-resistant formula that protects against UVA and UVB rays with a minimum SPF of 30.  Reapply lotion at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Some areas of the body can be particularly vulnerable to sun damage.  Here’s how to protect those danger-prone areas from head to toe:

Scalp:  Hair doesn’t protect your scalp much, especially as hair thins while we age.  Since you can’t really put sunscreen on your head, be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat made of a tightly woven fabric.

Face:  Noses, tops of ears and lips are very vulnerable to sun damage.  Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and apply generously to your ears and nose.  Apply lip balm with sunscreen.

Eyes:  Eyes can get sunburned when the sun is reflected off water or snow.  The damage is cumulative which increases the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays with frames that contour your face.  Don’t forget the kids, too!

Back:  The skin on the back is the one of the most common spots for melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer.  Have a family member or friend apply sunscreen and watch for changes (ragged edges, varying color and sizes larger than a pencil eraser) in moles or other skin lesions.

Hands:  The backs of our hands get exposed to the sun every day, resulting in thin crackled skin with dark spots.  Be sure to wear sunscreen on your hand every day of the year.

Legs:  Women’s legs are a common area for melanoma.  Be sure to wear sunscreen if legs aren’t covered with clothing.

Feet:  Sandals expose skin to the sun causing sunburned feet.  Be sure to reapply sunscreen to your feet if you’re swimming.  Although it is not a common, the soles of the feet can get skin cancer.

Resources:  

https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs

American Cancer Society, Protect Your Skin From the Sun, Stacy Simon, May 11, 2015.

Gannett News, USA Today, May 3, 2015,“Sunny days ahead, so don’t forget to cover up”. 

 Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewers:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed OSU Extension; Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA.

 

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