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How to look after your skin in winter

Dermatologist Dr Nicola Clayton talks to The Times about why a growing number of people are experiencing dry, chapped, reddened skin as the weather turns, and what we can do about it.

“It’s the extremes of temperature that are harmful,” says Nicola Clayton. “As we go from the cold outdoors to the over-warm indoors, the blood vessels in our skin change rapidly to deal with the shifting temperature, causing redness, and the fluctuating conditions also draw moisture from our skin.”

Dr Clayton doesn’t recommend supplements as a way of addressing winter skin problems. “Unless you are taking supplements to correct a deficiency, there seems to be little benefit,” Dr Clayton says. “You do need vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc in your diet for healthy skin, but these do not need to come in tablet form.” However Dr Clayton does support the use of probiotics. “There’s a lot of emerging evidence for probiotics and their benefits to the skin,” Dr Clayton says. “The current thinking is that it can only be helpful.”

If your hands become dry and chapped, Clayton says that applying Vaseline or Epaderm Cream at night and wearing fine cotton gloves in bed will help to keep them hydrated.

Dr Clayton also recommends a good emollient or moisturiser. “The more expensive a moisturiser, the more likely it is it to be more about ageing than moisturising, so go for the cheaper options,” Clayton says.

Dr Clayton advises to check the label on soap and cleansing products.
“Even soap brands labelled as ‘for sensitive skin’ often contain sodium lauryl sulphate and other chemicals called parabens that will strip the skin of oils,” Dr Clayton says. “In fact, you should avoid anything that bubbles in water, including shower gels and washing-up liquid, as they will likely make skin worse.”

If you exercise during winter there’s additional concerns. “Not only are you exposing skin to the cold and wind when you run or cycle outdoors, but sweat takes away moisture too,” Clayton says. “And as your body expels moisture, your clothes become more damp, which can cause chaffing and irritation.” Dr Clayton advises wearing technical, sweat-wicking fabrics for outdoor activity.

You can read the full article featuring Dr Nicola Clayton in The Times, November 6th 2018 or click here.


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