Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Winter Skin

When it comes to cold weather, is the glass really half full or half empty when it comes to cold weather? Arguments for the half full point of view include not rushing to take in the groceries, chilling wine, beer and other drinks in the garage, the body burning more calories just to stay warm, and an excuse to cuddle with loved ones. The downside is that it can wreak havoc on the skin. Here are some tips to help keep the glass looking half full by protecting the largest organ of our bodies.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Winter Skin

Dry skin Between the cold outdoors and the artificial heat blowing when we are indoors, our skin is under a continuous assault. There are a number of affordable, easy tips and tricks that we can follow to decrease the damage.

o Make showers short (5-10 minutes) and not too hot. When the temperatures are too high, our skin is robbed of its natural oils, leaving them dry.

o Infuse oils into our bath. Our kitchen contains some hidden gems (who says that we cannot bathe in what we eat?). Consider mixing a few drops of olive oil, a few cups of whole milk, or a cup of oatmeal to our bath water. The proteins and fats can help soothe rough skin.

o And, don’t stop there. Double-down by applying lotion, cream, or oil to our entire body within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath while our pores are open. This helps lock in the moisture.

o Shaving away unwanted hair unfortunately also scrapes away natural oils and can irritate our skin. Some tips and tricks to deal with this include: using a shaving cream, shaving in the direction the hair is growing to decrease scraping, and making sure the razor is not dull to decrease irritation.

Red nose Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was made famous by his very shiny nose. But, for most of us, we do not need our nose to guide a sleigh through the fog. When temperatures drop, the blood vessels cut off circulation to our schnoz to prevent heat from evaporating. It’s Mother Nature’s way of “insulating” the body in order to preserve heat. When we warm up, the same blood vessels quickly dilate, and, with it, comes a rush of blood, making the nose appear red.

o Apply a warm compress to the skin for several minutes after coming inside to decrease rapid vessel dilation.

o The constant wiping, blowing, or rubbing of our nose when battling a cold can irritate it. Using extra-soft tissues can decrease the friction and chapping.

o Apply moisturizer or lotion to the sensitive area throughout the day.

Chapped lips We do not want our loved ones to turn their cheek because they feel as though we are trying to kiss them with a set of brillo pads. To prevent this from happening–moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Lip balms with lanolin can soften the skin and reduce evaporation, allowing the skin to stay hydrated. Lanolin is the naturally oily wax that is extracted from sheep’s wool. For the vegetarians and those who have reservations about puckering up with sheep on their lips, consider vegetable oil.

Dry, rough hair Our hair does not have to be collateral damage to the cold weather.

o For those who shampoo their hair every day, consider changing it to every other day. If you do it once a week, consider changing it to every week and a half. Shampooing removes buildup and dirt (desirable) but also removes moisture from the scalp and hair (undesirable).

o More now than ever, we need to apply hair conditioner. Again, we can turn to our kitchens. In addition to its numerous culinary usages, olive oil can moisturize our hair. Consider adding a few drops on a wide-tooth comb after showering.

Dry hands Don’t let dry hands make you bah humbug when it comes to hand washing. Those ten digits and palms are weapons of mass destruction when it comes to the spread of germs and virus. Hand washing should consist of the following sequence–water, soap, lather, rinse, moisturize. Moisturizing needs to take place throughout the day.

o Keep lotion next to your sinks and consider carrying a small bottle in your purse, car, and at your desk.
o When washing dishes consider wearing gloves to prevent drying out.
o For severe cases, use a thick cream at bedtime and put on cotton gloves to facilitate absorption into the skin.

Family get-togethers, gathering around the fireplace, and making snowmen should be hallmarks of cold weather…not dry, cracked, and angry skin. In addition to the above tips, we need to drink plenty of water to keep ourselves hydrated and our skin moisturized. And when heading outside, dress the part. Take a hat, scarf, and gloves to protect our hair and skin from the damaging effects of cold weather. Remember—warm head, warm hands, warm heart…and healthy skin! The glass really is half full.

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Photograph by K. Cecchini

Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.