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Winter can be harsh on skin

Winter season is one of the most challenging for your skin. Exposed skin suffers from exposure to wind, snow, frost and heating of your home or workplace. Your skin can become dry, sensitive and irritated. So, what is the best way to protect your skin and keep it healthy?

The single most important thing is to keep the skin moisturized. This is especially true when you are bathing. Don’t forget to keep the water temperature low – it can’t be too hot. Also avoid washing your face with hot water as well. The warmer the water, the greater the loss of surface water and the quicker it dries out. The best water temperature is tepid or cold , especially in the morning.

Use of water-based moisturizers can lead to a seesaw struggle to keep your skin healthy. These lotions have a lot of water in them, which increases the risk of freezing when you are outside in subzero temperatures. That’s why you should use an oil-based moisturizer, which tends to be more retentive and protective. The fact that it can’t dissolve in water will help prevent frostbite.

Scent-free soaps and washes help prevent irritation. It is important to remember that application of any chemicals for improving scent and color can irritate our skin and contribute to overall dryness. It is best to apply a moisturizing cream immediately after you wash, while skin is still moist and warm. Try to use a facial cream that contains neutral but moisture-retentive base as this will improve dryness and reduce potential for damage. Undoubtedly, the best way to hydrate your skin is to drink plenty of water.

Don’t forget to protect your skin when you are outside. It is common to think the sun is dangerous only in summer. However, because snow reflects sunlight, wearing sunscreen is important in the winter, too. Remember that sun exposure ages your skin and increases the risk of further damage. One reason for this is that as we age, the layers of the skin tend to flatten and become thinner, and damage from the sun is more common. Use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or even SPF 30 to improve protection from harmful ultraviolet sun rays. Any makeup used also should have sun protection.

Protect your lips, as they are one of the most sensitive areas on the face. If you want to avoid chapped lips and sunburn, don’t lick them and use lip balm or lipstick with at least SPF 15-30.

Protect any exposed skin this winter season; always wear lip balm and sunscreen.

Carl Ammons is a registered nurse and the wound/ostomy care nurse at Community Medical Center.