Many suffer skin problems in winter

Irritation and dryness common
  • Deborah Condon

Over half of Irish people do not change their skincare routine during the cold winter months, despite the fact that many suffer problems at this time of year, such as cracked lips and painful dry skin, a recent survey has found.

According to the findings, 54% of people do not change their skincare routine during the winter. Only around 20% said that they do change it at this time of year, while a similar number said they have no skincare routine at all.

However, over 30% of people experience skin problems during these cold months, including irritation and dryness. If this is not acknowledged, the skin can crack, causing bacteria to seep through. This can lead to cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that can cause pain, redness and swelling.

According to Lisa Byrne, a pharmacist with McCabes Pharmacy, some people think that the best way to tackle dehydrated skin is to lather it with lots of hot, soapy water.

"But this can actually worsen the dryness. It is recommended to avoid long hot baths, keep showers short and only use warm water," she explained.

Meanwhile, according to Selene Daly, a dermatology clinical nurse specialist, at Sligo University Hospital, using a soap-free wash along with a moisturiser is a good way of combatting winter dry skin.

"Increasing the frequency of the moisturising along with changing to a greasier cream can also help," she noted.

She said that in order to prevent further dryness and irritation, people are advised to avoid alcohol-based products, harsh peels and masks, and harsh soaps. They should also avoid over-exfoliating.

"Using physical exfoliators for dry skin is not recommended. These are made from peach kernel, which is abrasive to skin and can trigger an allergic response or a flare of eczema," she pointed out.

People affected by atopic eczema usually have extremely dry skin anyway because it is incapable of retaining enough moisture. Cold and dry weather can trigger the symptoms of this condition, which include dryness, cracking and itchiness.

Ms Daly also reminded people that SPF should be used year-round, to protect the skin from the constant presence of UVA light in winter sun and glare from snow.

The survey involved 1,008 people. It was carried out in November 2019 by McCabes Pharmacy.


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