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Winter Skin - the Flaky, the Scaly, and the Downright Obscene

Winter Skin - the Flaky, the Scaly, and the Downright Obscene

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In the early months of the new year, many parts of the country become winter wonderlands, with beautiful snowscapes, clear skies, and temperatures that make it even more fun to cuddle up by the fire. However, while such scenery can be breathtaking, seasonal changes can wreak havoc on one’s skin. Temperature and humidity fluctuations as well as seasonal lifestyle changes can trigger or worsen uncomfortable, unattractive skin rashes. Maybe Santa has rosy cheeks for a reason! What are some symptoms of “winter skin”? And more importantly, what skin care options are there to reclaim a healthy glow?

Common Winter Skin Problems: More Reasons to Wear Long Sleeves

Most people’s skin becomes a bit drier in the winter. However, people with preexisting skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and acne may suffer from exacerbated symptoms during the winter months. While winter weather does not cause skin rashes, it can aggravate them or trigger their onset, inducing dry, flaky, red, itchy, and acne-covered skin.

Sufferers of eczema, or atopic dermatitis – the chronic, hereditary skin disorder characterized by patches of red, scaly, irritated, itchy skin – may experience intensified symptoms when the skin loses its moisture in cold, dry weather.

Rosacea, another chronic skin condition, causes red, flushed, blotched skin, visible blood vessels, and rosacea pimples (not to be confused with acne pimples, or comedones). These symptoms can flare up or worsen because of stress and emotional disturbances (common during the holiday season), reduced immune response, and drastic temperature changes.

For people for whom acne is already the bane of their existence, winter weather can worsen the problem. Winter air can dry the skin, increase dead skin cells that clog the pores, and cause skin irritation and bacteria-attracting sores.

Skin Care Solutions

If your New Year’s resolution revolves around reviving your skin, there is hope. You can survive the winter months and reclaim your dermatological health by following a few simple guidelines:

  • If you already have a chronic skin rash, visit your dermatologist at the onset of cold weather to have your present condition assessed and preventative measures prescribed.
  • If you experience a first-time flare-up, visit a licensed dermatologist immediately. While some rashes clear up on their own, others require medical attention.
  • Put a humidifier in your bedroom or office.
  • Avoid long, hot showers, and moisturize immediately after showering when the skin is still damp, even if you have acne.
  • Open your windows for 15 minutes in the morning to promote fresh air flow.
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day.
  • Minimize stress and manage it with positive coping techniques.

And if all else fails, just remember that your skin will likely respond well to the spring and summer environment, and stock up on turtlenecks!

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