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Winter skin care: Moisturizer and sunscreen top the list of ways to protect skin

Winter takes a toll on skin.

For starters, central heat — whether electric, natural gas or wood — has drying effects.

Bitter cold is tough on skin, and a drop in humidity during winter months can cause problems, especially for people who suffer from eczema and other skin disorders.

“The big thing that is most important is to moisturize more,” said Amber Teasley, a registered nurse who works at Owensboro Dermatology. “Choose an oil-based moisturizer as opposed to a water-based one during winter.”

Teasley said many lotions labeled as night creams are oil based and provide a protective layer.

Although people may not think about protecting their skin from sun in winter, they should. Teasley recommends applying a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30.

Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to exposure, she said. And don’t forget necks, hands and chests.

The skin on hands is thinner and needs protection. It’s a good idea to wear gloves outdoors and apply plenty of moisturizer.

For indoor comfort, the use of a humidifier can return moisture to the air and prevent skin from drying out, Teasley said.

During winter, people should avoid taking super hot baths and showers.

“The intense heat of a hot shower or bath can break down the lipid barrier in the skin,” she said. “It’s the layer of skin that helps hold moisture and protects skin.”

Teasley said people who develop severe cracks and dry itchy skin during winter may need to see a dermatologist because they may suffer from a condition, such as psoriasis or eczema. offers more tips for winter skin care.

Feet need extra moisturizing treatments during winter, the website said. Moisturizers with petroleum jelly or glycerine work well.

A common home remedy for dry hands and feet is to apply petroleum jelly or heavy cream at bedtime. Then, wear socks and light gloves to bed, which helps hold the moisturizer in all night.

“And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper,” said.

People who use clay masks or harsh peels may want to take it easy during winter. Those products can dry skin.

Winter may be a better time for homemade masks made with natural ingredients found in many cupboards, such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado.

Alcohol astringents and toners should be used sparingly, too, according to

Eczema, a medical condition in which skin becomes rough and inflamed, can worsen in winter.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that anyone who suffers from eczema should bathe in warm water instead of hot.

“Apply moisturizer after every bath, shower and hand washing,” the AAD website said. “Apply moisturizer only to skin that you have not just applied eczema medicine.”

Ointments retain more water and reduce the risk of irritation.

Children with eczema should wear clothes made from natural fabrics, such as cotton. Wool and synthetic materials can irritate skin.

Article Credits: Renee Beasley Jones

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