Skin Protection in the Winter

We all know that the skin is the largest organ of the body.  But sometimes we forget how important healthy skin is for a healthy body. Your skin does many jobs like helping your body control its temperature and protecting you from germs like bacteria that might make you sick.  A way to think of your skin is like a strong concrete wall.  Skin cells form a good barrier when they have strong connections to each other, just like concrete blocks need cement to keep them stuck together.  And just like any good wall, if we don’t care for it the wall might start to crack and fail – with our skin that might mean infection or inflammation.

So, let’s review skin health, which is especially important during the winter when the air doesn’t hold as much moisture and dry weather makes it easier for our “strong wall” of skin cells to crack and weaken.

Signs that our skin might be starting to weaken:

  • Chapped lips
  • Dry, itchy arms and legs
  • Cracked hands and feet
  • Small white patches on the cheeks

Skin Moisture – Our goal is to combat the dry air.  Here are a few tips:

  • Use a moisturizer
    • Find a moisturizer that you like – the best moisturizers are thick and do not have fragrances or other additives, especially for those of us with sensitive skin.
    • Some options that I like to use: CeraVe, Cetaphil, coconut oil, or even ointments like petroleum jelly (as long as we can keep it from staining your clothes!)
    • If a lotion has a pump it might mean that water was added to the lotion, which can actually dry the skin.
      • Better to find a tub or squeeze tube.
    • Apply 1-2 times every day, especially after baths or showers when the water washes away natural skin oils
      • Overuse of hand soap can also remove natural oils
    • Moisture comes from the inside too!
      • Drink water throughout the day whenever you are thirsty and more often when you are exercising, spending time outside or sick.

Skin care can be quick and simple! Even if you do not have obvious signs of skin dryness, having a daily routine will keep your skin happy and healthy.

What’s a good present that we can all give to ourselves this winter season? Answer: A big tub of moisturizing skin cream!

by Dr. Marcus Baca

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