Health Q&A Focus: Winter Skin Health

With exposure to ever-changing temperature and weather variations, the look and feel of your skin might have suffered during this grim British winter. But it's not too late to do something about it, says Dr Bav Shergill, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation trustee.

Health Q&A Focus: Winter Skin Health

How does men's skin suffer during winter?
Wind, rain, central heating and soggy clothing can all irritate skin, leaving it looking flushed, red and weather-beaten. Men tend to suffer from dry hands and dry skin in general during winter.
Can moisturisers help?
Yes. Men can be more reluctant to use moisturisers, as they're not a part of male culture, or simply they aren't in the habit. This can harm, as it isn't helping to maintain the skin's natural barrier which prevents damage to skin cells from heat, cold, germs and irritants. Keeping skin moist is imperative to avoid it getting cracked and infected. The simplest way to combat winter's effect on skin is to regularly apply moisturiser and lip salve.
What about washing?
Avoid soaps and harsh cleansers that contain alcohol, and go easy on exfoliation. Don't take long hot baths, as this can strip away natural oil from the skin: keep bathtime brief and water temperature warm, not hot. Apply a moisturiser straight after a bath or shower while skin is still slightly damp. Drying your skin vigorously with a towel can damage it, so pat dry – don't rub.
Any other advice?
Choose clothes carefully. Some materials, for example lamb's wool, may irritate skin and cause flare-ups. Vegan fabrics such as cotton and hemp are easier on the skin as they don't have small fibres that can irritate it. Protect skin with warm clothing (scarf, hat, gloves) when outside, and never let wet clothes stay in contact with your skin. A healthy diet overall with enough water is important in supporting the body – and in turn the skin.

For further help and information on skin health, see the resources at
www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk.

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