About six months ago, I had my first basal cell removed via Mohs Surgery. As someone who has a family history of skin cancerand is relatively fair, I understand the importance of sunscreen, however the surgery was a bit of a wake-up call for me. Although I had been wearing sunscreen whenever I was outside, I learned that there was a lot about sun protection that I didn’t know, like take for instance sun protection during the winter. As we head in the colder months and the ski slopes & outdoor ice rinks call to some of us, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask some questions and get some advice on what we should be doing to protect our skin during the colder months. In the information below, Dr. Kim Eickhorst of Dermatology Associates of Western Connecticut has outlined a few things:
- Cover up – Sun safety is about more than just using sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, scarves, and gloves, all play an important role in blocking the sun’s harmful rays rather than just screening it out. Snow is a particularly sneaky
“sunburner,” as its reflective surface can bounce UV light in all directions making you more prone to burning that you realize. Eighty percent of our lifetime sun exposure comes at us sideways.
- Antioxidants – Certain supplements can help protect and increase the resiliency of your skin. Heliocare® is a once-a-day, antioxidant supplement that helps to protect skin cells’ DNA from the harmful effects of UV radiation, ultimately decreasing the risk of skin cancer
- Diet- Vitamin C and zinc are known to bolster the production of healthy collagen and elastin. Foods like fatty fish and flaxseed help to give your skin a smoother and silkier appearance. Consider choosing winter menus and food items that contain these skin boosters
- Hydrate- Protect your skin from the outside and the inside. Consider running a humidifier in the bedroom to cut down the drying CT winter indoor heat. Drink lots of water to supply your skin with the water content it needs from the inside
- Moisturize– Creams that come in a pump or squeeze tube are often watered down with alcohol or higher water content, which ironically makes them more drying. Consider investing in creams that are more emollient and come in a jar/tub, instead. Also avoid moisturizers with added fragrances and colors. Also keep a lookout for IN SHOWER Body Moisturizers. These lotions are the “quick and dirty” way of fitting a protective full body coat of moisturizer into your daily routine
- Rotate your products- Products that might not have caused your skin problems in the summer months (when there is more humidity in the air) can often cause irritation in the winter. You may need to cut back the frequency of use for certain products that contain components like retinol, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid.
- Change your shower routine– Most are shocked to find out that showering, dries out your skin. Water, especially hot water, strips your skin of its naturally protective oils. Showers should be no more than once a day, 5 minutes or less, and lukewarm. If you can write your name on the mirror in the bathroom after a shower, you’re over-drying your skin
- Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and whirlpools- Though these treatments may represent relaxation to you, they are the quickest route to incapacitating winter itch
- Wardrobe malfunction– While cozy and warm wool sweater may seem the way to dress in the winter months, many synthetic fabrics (wool being one of the biggest culprits) can aggravate the skin and prompt eczema flares