Dealing with dry skin in the winter is one thing, but for some, the season also means more acne.
Dr. Benjamin Barankin, dermatologist and medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, told Global News the sun has some anti-inflammatory and immunosuppression effects.
“Some modest sun exposure in the spring, summer, fall can be helpful for acne,” he explained. “Also, when the air is dry like in winter, the facial skin secretes more sebum and oil to lubricate the skin … which can result in more acne.”
Dr. Ellen Marmur told Women’s Health magazine in 2015 cold air during winter months also has less moisture than the rest of the seasons. And when this cold air hits our face, it rips away natural surface lipids which act as a layer of protection.
“It’s a whole lot easier for bacteria to get in — and that means you can say hello to zits,” the magazine added.
Skincare routine in the winter
And as the season changes, you may want to consider changing your skincare routine in general, Barankin said.
For starters, only use gentle cleansers and avoid using bars of soap on your face. After you wash your face, pat try and immediately after apply a moisturizer.
“In the summer or more humid weather, a lotion is sufficient,” he continued. “In the winter, look for something a little bit thicker like a cream.”
Skin hydration is also key — and this doesn’t mean getting enough water.
“Make sure to have a central humidifier or bedroom cool mist humidifier as well to keep the skin well hydrated,” he explained. “Consider minimizing dehydrating agents like caffeine and alcohol in the winter, and avoiding windy days by staying indoors to avoid windburn.”
Can we really prevent acne in the winter?
And while it is impossible to prevent acne altogether (acne can be caused by mix of stress, dietary factors and changing hormones), there are ways to maintain it.
Good, gentle skin care is key Barankin, and if necessary, over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid based products can be quite helpful.
“Medicated creams, gels and/or pills from your dermatologist can effectively treat and prevent acne if the acne is more extensive or severe.”
And whatever you do, don’t play with, pop or squeeze your pimples. “Treat acne quickly and properly with guidance from your dermatologist to clear the acne faster and to avoid scarring.”
And if you are unsure if the products you are currently using are helping your skin, bring your products to a professional.
“I always ask patients to bring in their products and extensively review their skincare to ensure they are not contributing to acne. Then the typical treatment algorithm is topical treatments, and possibly systemic treatments, peels, blue light treatment and photodynamic therapy,” Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue of Toronto, told Global News earlier this year.
Arizona-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Linder previously told Teen Vogue wearing sunscreen can also help. “Snow reflects 80 per cent of the sun’s rays while sand and water only reflect 10 per cent and 15 per cent.”
The magazine also recommended avoiding alcohol-based toners and irritating scrubs. Instead, find something with alpha hydroxy acids. “These even out skin tone and rid skin of surface build-up, preventing pores from getting congested without spreading bacteria like physical exfoliators can.”
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