UC HEALTH LINE: Moisture Is Key to Keeping Skin Healthy in Winter

CINCINNATI—Skin care experts at the University of Cincinnati (UC) agree that moisture is key when it comes to keeping your skin healthy and supple during the dry winter months.


“Cold winter air and home heating can cause the skin to dry out,” explains Cathy Fricke, medical skin care specialist with Cosmetic Surgery at University Pointe. “Keeping the skin moisturized and protected during the winter months is critical.”


Dermatologists Pranav Sheth, MD, and Lana Hawayek, MD, say most people are guilty of “over cleansing” with hot water and harsh soaps that can rob the skin of its natural moisture. This effect is heightened during dry winter months, when there is less humidity in the air.


They suggest the following tips to keep your skin looking healthy and refreshed in the winter—and throughout the year:


·         Staying clean is important—but don’t overdo it. Sheth and Hawayek recommend using mild cleansing agents, such as Dove, Cetaphil or Oil of Olay, and limiting showers to less than 10 minutes using lukewarm water.


“Your arms, back and legs don’t need to be soaped-up during every bath or shower; plain water rinses these areas well,” says Sheth, assistant professor and dermatologist at UC. “But it makes sense to soap the underarms and private areas every day.”


·         Use a daily moisturizer appropriate for your skin type. Moisturizer products seal water into the skin and help it stay soft and supple. Without this surface protection, water can evaporate and the skin becomes dry and flaky.


“Moisturizers have emollient qualities, so applying them daily helps the skin stay hydrated and feel softer,“ explains Hawayek, assistant professor and cosmetic dermatologist at UC. “By creating smoother skin, they can help reduce the appearance of aging.”


She says the best time to moisturize your skin is after bathing, when the skin is still warm and moist.


“Scientifically, there’s no data to support natural versus synthetic moisturizer products,” adds Sheth. “Any moisturizer can be good for the skin—the goal is to use them.  It’s really a matter of preference whether you like lotions that are less greasy, or heavier moisturizers like thick creams, oils, or Vaseline.”


·         Keep a humidifier in your house. This will maintain a healthy level of moisture in the air and can help prevent dryness of the skin, nose, eyes and throat.


·         Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important for general health and helps the skin to absorb other treatment products you put on.


UC skin experts also suggest continuing to use sunscreen daily during the winter months, since ultraviolet rays are present whether it’s warm or cold. They recommend that everyone—especially fair-skinned individuals—apply a daily sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 or more daily.


For more information on skin care, visit www.netwellness.org, a collaborative health-information Web site staffed by Ohio physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.


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