Skin

Updated 20 November 2007

Skin care in winter

It’s generally not the cold that’s the problem, but the dryness brought on by the time of year and the air conditioning.

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Winter brings with it not only cosy log fires, hot soup and cuddly blankets, but also dry skin.

Dry skin is a common complaint at this time of the year when lower humidity and lower temperatures result in drier air. Heaters in homes and cars may help to make you feel warmer, but it only dries out the air even further and therefore aggravates dry skin.

If your skin is dry, it means that it lacks water or oil. This gets worse as one gets older, because the sebaceous glands of the skin produce less of the natural oil that helps it retain its moisture.

Dry skin (also called xerosis) can result in scaling, flaking, the appearance of fine wrinkles and most commonly, itchiness. It fortunately seldom has serious consequences. However, seriously dry skin can lead to dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). Fortunately there are several things you can do to look after your skin this winter:

Avoid long baths
While it may seem as if you are pampering yourself with long, hot baths, you are actually doing the exact opposite. Prolonged baths and showers and the evaporation process thereafter dehydrate the skin. Stick to brief baths and showers and pat your skin dry afterwards. Avoid foam baths and perfumed soaps. A bath with an emollient is better for your skin than a shower.

Shaving
Use a lubricating gel or shaving cream, change blades frequently and shave in the direction that hair grows.

Moisturise, moisturise
Apply moisturiser as soon as you have had a bath, moisturise your face at least twice a day and your hands throughout the day.

Steer clear of wool
Rather wear cotton or silk clothing. Wool or acrylic fabrics will aggravate itching.

If the condition does not improve, even with home treatment, it may be necessary to have it seen to by a doctor.

- (Health24)

 

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Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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