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Winter Makeover: Keeping Your Skin Healthy

Leah Schammel, DO, ACMC-Willmar, Dermatology

As winter approaches, the change in weather often wreaks havoc on your skin. Many different factors can cause dry skin, such as age, smoking and chronic health conditions. However, the biggest culprit can be the weather. As humidity levels plummet and central heat pumps out hot, dry air, your skin has a tendency to strip your body of its natural moisturizers causing it to dry out faster.

Well-moisturized skin provides a barrier to protect your skin from things like infectious bacteria and viruses. This year give yourself the gift of beautiful, moisturized skin by following these simple tips.

  1. Adjust your skincare regimen. Clean your face twice daily—in the morning and at night. My favorite facial cleansers are Cetaphil, Cerave and Aveeno—all are mild and dermatologist approved. Consider shelving your facial toners and astringents as they contain alcohol that dries out your skin. Avoid fragranced products and perfumes as they are harsh and drying on your skin. Finally, exfoliate your face and body once a week with a gentle scrub or washcloth.
  2. Take lukewarm showers and limit them to five minutes or less. If you prefer baths, use lukewarm water and add colloidal oatmeal to moisturize and soothe your skin.
  3. Replenish your skin with moisture. Drinking plenty of water will help, but it isn't enough. Use a moisturizer like Vanicream and Cerave twice a day—immediately after showering and before bedtime. The drier your skin, the thicker the lotion should be.
  4. Cover up before heading outside. Gloves keep hands from chapping. Lip balms like Aqaphor by Eucerin (which also helps with dry cracked lips) provides moisture and wind protection. Even though it is winter and the sun's rays aren't as strong as in the summer, always wear lotion, moisturizers and/or makeup on your hands and face that contain an SPF.
  5. Consider using a humidifier in your bedroom to provide much-needed moisture in the air.

For most people, taking care of your skin—even during dry, harsh winter months—is as easy as making a few small adjustments to your skin regimen. Others might experience more drastic skin issues. If you have a rash, peeling, cracking or patchy skin, consider making an appointment to see your dermatologist.