Winter Skin Care

Beauty , Skin Care

Winter Skin Care

Here is a suggested article for winter skin care, written by Diana Sun, M.D., F.A.A.D.

Your skin may need extra care when you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation during the winter months.   The amount of oil that your glands naturally secrete to lubricate and protect your skin may be reduced when you are taking some chemotherapy medications. In addition, the cold winter air and the hot dry air from heaters can further reduce the moisture of your skin.  This can cause dryness, itching or flaking, and may sometimes lead to rashes.

There are some simple steps that you can take to not only keep your skin soft and supple, but also make it beautiful and radiant as well.

Maintain good health.  Be sure to keep yourself well hydrated and be sure to eat nutritious foods.  Drink plenty of fluid, especially water.   Unless your medications or medical condition requires the restriction of certain food groups, be sure to have a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables of all different colors (greens, reds, oranges, yellows, blues), and protein from a wide variety of sources (fish, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, beans and legumes, nuts, dairy).  Exercise regularly if you are feeling up to it.  And seek the emotional support of your family and friends and support groups.

Keep your showers short and avoid very hot water.   If your bathroom is steamy and foggy when you are done, then it is too long and too hot.  Wash your face and body gently each day using cleansers that are free of fragrances or dyes.  You may wish to gently massage your skin with a clean washcloth or gentle body scrub once or twice a week to exfoliate the dead surface skin.   Avoid exfoliating areas where the skin is sensitive, such as recently healed surgical sites, radiation sites, port sites, and the like.  These areas can be gently massaged with just your fingertips.   Check with your doctor about the care of these areas.

Immediately after your shower, apply a generous amount of moisturizer all over your face and body.  For very dry skin, heavy emollients such as Aquaphor ointment, Eucerin Cream, or even Vaseline Petroleum jelly applied lightly to wet skin can “lock in” moisture and leave the skin soft and smooth.  You can also consider natural alternatives such as safflower oil or shea butter, which are available at natural and organic food stores as well as many grocery stores and pharmacies.    For those with normal to dry skin, look for any fragrance-free, dye-free moisturizer.  Some excellent creams include CeraVe cream (which contain ceramides to replenish your skin) and Cetaphil cream.

When going outdoors, be sure to generously apply sunscreen to all of your exposed skin.  Use a sunscreen that has a high SPF number (at least 45) and check the label to make certain that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.   Look for ingredients such as micronized zinc oxide as the sole ingredient, or if several sunscreen agents are used, then  look for Parsol 1789 (also known as Avobenzone).

Finally, if your skin is very sensitive, protect it from the cold and wind.  Apply a generous amount of moisturizer with sunscreen before heading outside on a windy day.  You can also protect your skin by wearing a hooded coat or jacket, or by wrapping a scarf loosely around your lower face.

Written by:

Diana Sun, Dermatologist
Diana K. Sun, M.D., F.A.A.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Dermatology
Clinical Assistant Professor in Dermatology, SUNY at Stony Brook
Consultant Physician, Veterans Administration Medical Center at Northport