How (and Why) to Protect Your Skin From the Sun During the Winter

How (and Why) to Protect Your Skin From the Sun During the Winter

Most people know that the hot summer sun can wreak havoc on their skin, but they tend to let their guard down in the winter. But that’s a bad move because the winter months are harsh — especially in Utah — and can cause more problems than you might suspect. Low relative humidity and indoor heating suck the moisture out of your skin and leave it vulnerable to damage.

At Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics, Dr. Robert Topham and our team love to help our patients prevent skin problems before they occur, so we’ve compiled this list of tips to help you protect your skin through the cold winter months.

Why protect your skin during the winter?

Your skin protects you from the environment, forming an all-over barrier that keeps out viruses and bacteria and blocks the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (to an extent). Your skin also alerts you to temperature changes, locks in moisture, and enables you to experience the world around you.

However, your skin is an organ that needs care and attention, just like all your body parts. So, if you want your skin to protect you, you have to defend it, and here’s how.

How to protect your skin in the winter

We see the effects of the harsh Utah winters on all skin types, from sun damage to dehydrated skin and eczema. Here are some tips to help you avoid these cold-weather problems.

1. Beware of frostbite

Avoiding freezing your skin may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how many folks in the area experience frostbite. Frostbite often affects the outer extremities like fingers and toes, and classic symptoms include color changes, numbness, pain, and ulcerated skin. If you suspect frostbite, see Dr. Topham immediately. 

2. Watch out for wind

Whipping wind whisks away your skin’s moisture and dries it out instantly. The best defense against chapped skin and lips is to avoid extreme wind and use thick lip balm and skin protectants, such as petroleum jelly.

3. Humidify your house

Modern indoor heating makes your home cozy and warm but creates an arid environment that’s as harsh on your skin as the cold outdoors. Control your air quality with a room humidifier that will prevent dry skin and keep your nasal passages moist and functional, as well. 

4. Keep using sunscreen

Consider sunscreen a daily duty, even in the winter. Whether the weather is sunny or gray, the ultraviolet rays still penetrate your skin’s outer layers and damage the cells below. A high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must. Dr. Topham recommends EltaMD®, one of the most effective and safe options. 

5. Cleanse, but don’t strip

Cleansing your skin daily is important regardless of the season, but in the winter, you need to be careful not to strip the essential oils. Use a gentle cleanser and avoid scrubbing.

6. Moisturize

Replace lost moisture by slathering on creams and lotions that hydrate your skin and keep the natural moisture in. Talk to Dr. Topham about brands with no fragrance or lanolin, which may irritate sensitive skin. Apply creams and lotions immediately after you bathe to trap moisture.

7. Don’t take hot showers

Hot water can strip away your skin’s natural moisture, so turning down the temperature in the shower or tub can help you avoid dry, itchy skin. 

When to seek professional help for winter skin problems

You can handle minor skin problems at home by following our helpful winter tips, but if dry skin turns itchy, rashy, or broken, call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Topham. He can recommend next-level skincare products that protect and repair skin all winter. 

He also takes the time to examine your skin and check for signs of skin conditions, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and cancer. Ensure your skin stays healthy this winter; call or click to contact our team.

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