Are you making these four skin care mistakes?
Between the drying effects of indoor heat and the frigid temperatures and blustery winds of winter outdoors, keeping your skin supple and soft this time of year can be challenging.
Dr. Latifah Sabree, a family medicine physician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, says the number one habit for healthy skin year-round is drinking plenty of water every day. And when it comes to keeping your skin healthy in cold weather months, the next best thing you can do for your skin is use a humidifier in the rooms you use most.
“We hear all the time that the secret to beautiful, healthy skin is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize,” Dr. Sabree says. “But moisturizer doesn’t always come in the form of a cream or lotion. Staying hydrated promotes healthy skin from the inside out and vice versa.”
Besides mild discomfort and itchiness, dry skin can lead to painful cracks, dermatitis, eczema and bacterial infection. Dr. Sabree recommends drinking six to eight glasses of water daily, as you would during warmer months. She also suggests using lip balm and body lotion when it’s cold out to protect the lips, hands, legs and feet against chapping.
And speaking of body lotion, Dr. Sabree stresses that lotion is a more effective moisturizer than straight petroleum jelly or mineral oil, which do not contain water. “It’s important to protect the skin with something that contains water. If you want to use an oil, use a nut butter or glycerin-based lotion. Or apply oil on top of your lotion as an extra barrier to lock moisture in,” she says.
Additionally, Dr. Sabree says avoiding these common mistakes will help boost the moisture quotient in your skin this winter:
- Avoid over-exfoliating: Sloughing-off thick, dry skin may seem like an appropriate way to bring a healthy glow back to your skin. But if your skin appears to be slightly red, cracked or irritated, scrubbing too hard may cause more harm than good.
- Don’t bathe in super-hot water: While thoughts of a long, hot bath or shower on a freezing cold day may sound cozy, your skin won’t feel as good. Hot water actually robs skin of its moisture, making it more likely to flake, crack and peel. Treat your skin to warm water, and it will thank you.
- Don’t let lotions work alone: Keeping the skin moisturized with lotion is a good practice for healthy skin. So, it may make sense to continuously slather lotion onto dry skin to restore its supple feeling. Because indoor heat dries the air, it can also shorten the effects of your lotion. If your normal dose of lotion doesn’t seem to be enough, add a humidifier to your room.
- Don’t apply lip balm with your fingers: A little dab of lip balm can help keep chapped lips at bay. However, using your fingers to apply it is a no-no because that can spread germs.
Dr. Sabree suggests seeing your physician if you experience severe itching or have dry, itchy skin that does not get better within two weeks, as these could be symptoms of skin disorders that may require specific treatments.
About the Author
Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is regional coordinator on Advocate Aurora Health's Public Affairs team. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theater and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.