Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cold Weather Skin Care

October 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 




When the air turns frosty and the indoor heat turns on, skin reacts in a negative way. We may become quite itchy or develop flaky patches. However, it’s not just a matter of discomfort or unsightliness. Cold weather changes may be more than skin-deep — vulnerable skin can’t act as a barrier against wellness enemies including bacteria, pollution, and allergens.

Dr. Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, says we might not realize how seasons affect skin. “Throughout the summer months, the biggest concern for skin health is sun exposure. Skin tends to be less dry and more able to hold moisture, requiring less heavy products.”

Once we head indoors for prolonged periods in the fall and winter, our skin dries out, says this celebrity dermatologist. “The cold air outside, combined with the dry heat indoors from central air, translates into an impaired skin barrier for many people, making it more difficult for skin to trap moisture. Water evaporates out of the skin while irritants, allergens, and pollutants are more likely to dive in and trigger inflammation.”

The solution to keeping harmful invaders from penetrating weakened skin is to keep it strong and healthy from the outside and the inside. “It’s important to keep your skin well moisturized with a thick creamy moisturizer. Many of my patients benefit from adding a few drops of oil into their night cream, or layering a serum beneath their night cream,” advises Dr. Bowe.

“Diet is also key to protecting skin throughout the winter months. As I discuss in my book, Omega 3 fatty acids from salmon, nuts, avocados, and olive oil are essential to maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Taking an oral probiotic can also help boost your skin’s own production of ceramides, a molecule that helps your skin to trap moisture. Finally, be sure to drink water throughout the day.”

Off-season sun exposure still poses a risk for skin cancers, per Dr. Bowe. “Always apply sunscreen throughout the winter because 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate through the clouds.” Just as water and gleaming expanses of fiberglass intensify summer rays and resulting sunburn, Dr. Bowe warns that skiers and hikers must take extra care to avoid skin cancer resulting from UV rays reflecting off the snow.

Seeking immediate treatment for cancer is a given. Separately, attention to wellness can encompass not only the strengthening of skin to prevent infection and inflammation but also to look our best. Both feeling vital and appearing that way contribute to our overall sense of wellness.

For those who were too busy during boating season to schedule a visit, now’s a great time of year to see a dermatologist. “If you own a boat, you have to make friends with your dermatologist,” Dr. Bowe declares. “My boaters are at high risk for skin cancers and premature signs of aging, and there are simple things we can do in the office, and simple lifestyle changes we can make together, that can dramatically change their skin destiny.”

There’s a misconception that correcting (non-cancerous) skin damage and bothersome flaws must involve needles or surgery, but Dr. Bowe counters that with the many options she can offer patients. “Ingredients like retinol, peptides, growth factors and antioxidants are all key when it comes to reversing damage topically. Glycolic acid can also help lighten and brighten dark spots left from the sun, and lasers are also excellent in reversing skin damage from the sun.”

Heading to a board certified dermatologist is preferable to seeking skin care at a salon, insists Dr. Bowe. “If improperly performed by someone who is not experienced in treating the skin, [procedures] can cause serious side effects, including discoloration and scarring.”

As with so many other concerns, the gut can’t be overlooked when it comes to skin wellness. “There are several oral probiotics that can help repair damage from the sun,” per Dr. Bowe. “The lactobacillus family of bacteria has been shown to reduce UV induced damage to the skin. By taking a supplement, you can inhibit inflammation and rebalance the immune system — one study found that women who took this probiotic pill showed a healthier immune cell profile in their skin following sun exposure. Another oral supplement that’s showing incredibly powerful effects when it comes to protecting the skin from sun damage is Heliocare, a potent antioxidant blend. For my patients who frequently go boating or play golf, I recommend taking a daily Heliocare supplement with the goal of decreasing their risk for future cancers.” [Editor’s note: Dr. Bowe advises that she has partnered with the brand on several projects.]

By Lita Smith-Mines


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