2014

Tips to Eliminate Winter Skin Woes

Northwestern Medicine dermatologist offers tips to relieve dry winter skin

CHICAGO, Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following a whirlwind couple of days, colder, less-humid temperatures are back in Chicago bringing with them the increase in tight, itchy, red and uncomfortable skin.  While it can be challenging to keep your skin hydrated during the winter months, Northwestern Medicine® dermatologists say simple modifications to your daily skin care routine can help.

"The substantial drop in moisture that occurs during the winter months can be damaging to your skin causing dryness, itching, irritation, cuts or sores," said Jill Weinstein, MD, dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group. "It's essential to change your skin care regimen each winter to rehydrate your skin and keep it moisturized."

Weinstein offers the following tips to banish dry skin and give your skin care routine a boost:

  • Skip the hot bath or shower – "Although soaking in a hot bath may feel great after being outside in the cold, the prolonged water exposure and heat breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin causing a loss in moisture," said Weinstein. "Keep showers and baths lukewarm and short, and opt for gentle cleansers that won't irritate your skin."
  • Moisturize frequently – Don't rely on your typical lotion to get you through the cold winter months. Creams offer more moisture than lotions; look for creams with ceramides which can help replenish the damaged skin barrier. Be sure to moisturize every time you wash your hands and get out of the shower and again before bed.
  • Shower then shave – Shaving can irritate dry skin. Men, shave after you get out of the shower.  Women, save shaving for last while in the shower. This will give your pores time to open and your hair time to get softer.  Be sure to always moisturize after shaving and change your razor often to prevent dull blades or build-up of bacteria.
  • Hook up a humidifier – Dry, hot air from a heater can leave sensitive skin parched and make itching and flaking worse.  A portable humidifier or one attached to your furnace adds moisture to the air inside your home to help humidify the dry air and relieve itchy skin. 
  • Protect your lips – "The biggest mistake you can make is to lick your lips when they are chapped," explained Weinstein.  "Even though this may provide short-term relief, eventually your lips will dry out as the saliva evaporates.  Help keep them moist by using an ointment-based lip balm or lubricating cream made with SPF and petrolatum or beeswax."
  • Grab a pair of gloves – Protecting your hands from the cold air and low humidity plays a significant role in preventing dry skin. Make sure your gloves are made of material that does not irritate your skin.  During bitter cold days, layer a wool mitten over a cotton mitten to help keep your hands warm and dry.  Wearing a cotton glove over your moisturizing cream at night is also very beneficial.
  • Apply sunscreen – "Sunscreen should be applied daily, not just in the summertime," said Weinstein. "The combination of winter sun and snow glare can damage your skin.  Make sure you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and re-apply every two hours if you're planning to be outdoors for an extended period of time."
  • Wear breathable fabrics –Cotton and silk are good choices for the winter months because they allow your skin to breathe. When you wash your clothes, use detergents without dyes or perfumes.  Dressing in layers for warmth is important, but also prevents excessive sweating. 

"Many cases of dry winter skin will clear up within a few weeks of adjusting your routine," added Weinstein.  "If your skin doesn't improve, consider calling your doctor.  You could be dealing with eczema or psoriasis that requires more aggressive medical therapy."

Northwestern Medicine is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery. 

For more information about protecting your skin visit www.nmpg.com or call 312-926-0779.

About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 201-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois. 

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital has 1,705 affiliated physicians and 6,769 employees. Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.

Northwestern Memorial has nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. And, Northwestern Memorial ranks 12th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 Honor Roll of "America's Best Hospitals". The hospital is ranked in 12 of 16 clinical specialties rated by U.S. News and is No. 1 in Illinois and Chicago in U.S. News' 2012 state and metro rankings, respectively. For 13 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 14 years.

SOURCE Northwestern Memorial Hospital



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