Written by Guest Blogger Dr Angela Goyal
With Christmas over now and almost 3 months left until spring, our winter health needs some attention. Dark nights and cold weather mean we may not go out and get our regular exercise, we are deprived of vitamin D from the sun and many of us resort to comfort junk food eating - sound familiar? Add in being indoors with the central heating on and paying little attention to our skin, which is hidden away under chunky woolen jumpers, and you have a recipe for dull and dry skin. In my dermatology clinics, those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis often tend to get worse symptoms in the winter months for these very reasons. So what can you do to keep your skin healthy?
MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE. This has to be my number one tip. Indoor heating, hot showers and low humidity in the air are all reasons why your skin will dry our more in winter. Dryness can leave you skin feeling itchy, flaky and bumpy. Use a moisturizer which is fragrance and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) free. It doesn't have to be an expensive brand - and generally the fewer ingredients the better.
SWAP YOUR SOAP. This is bad news if you have just received a load of smellies as Christmas presents. In general, the nicer it looks and smells the more it will strip your skin of oils. I would recommend a gentle, fragrance and SLS free non-soap cleanser. And yes, a hot bath or shower does feel nice in winter but it will dry your skin- instead have quick shower or bath in lukewarm water.
EAT MORE GOOD FATS. Eating well in winter will not only benefit you skin but also your general health and mood. Healthy fats are something that many of us lack in the Western diet, but our skin needs them as does our whole body (1). We don't produce essential fatty acids so we have to obtain them through our food. Eat plenty of essential fatty acids which can be found in, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, oily fish, avocado, spinach and broccoli. Be aware that your skin may be a tell-tale sign for some other problem in your body. For some people, itch can be caused by iron deficiency anemia or eczema, allergy or intolerance. If you have any concerns about your skin, see your GP for advice.
Dr Angela Goyal is a GP who specializes in skin and hold dermatology clinics in Leeds. She also shares tips on a healthy living blog https://www.facebook.com/drangelagoyal/. She is a columnist for The Yorkshire Evening Post and appears on Made in Leeds TV speaking on health issues and speaks regularly at national medical conferences and runs her own medical conferences through www.inspiredmedics.co.uk
1 Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 28, Issue 4, July-August 2010, Pages 440-451
Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the Ώ-6 and Ώ-3 fatty acids
Meagen M.McCuskerMDJane M.Grant-KelsMD
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