In this edition of Healthy Living, dermatologist Dr. Nada Elbuluk discusses some ways to keep your skin healthy all winter long. NY1's Jill Urban filed this report.
Temperatures are dropping, and as winter approaches, we all may notice more dry itchy skin. Maintaining healthy skin all winter long can keep us comfortable and healthy.
"Our skin is our largest organ, and for that reason, it's really important to take care of it," says Dr. Nada Elbuluk, a dermatologist with NYU Langone Medical Center. "It actually is what protects our body and all our internal organs from the external environment, so it's our first barrier of defense to a lot of bacteria and things we can come into contact with in the environment, and so it's really important to take care of it."
Elbuluk says during the winter, the cold, dry air and the indoor dry heat often lead to dry skin and can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. She says dry, cracked skin can leave us susceptible to infection or other bacteria, so we need a plan of action.
First, moisturize, and she suggests using a thick cream rather than a lotion.
"Creams often come in tubs or a jar, and you want to look for ingredients that are going to repair your natural skin barrier, so ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, humectants that are really going to help maintain that moisture in your skin," Elbuluk says. "You want to avoid products that have ingredients that are going to dry the skin, so things that are alcohol-based, things that have acids in them."
She also suggests keeping hot showers to a minimum and getting a humidifier to help restore moisture to the air and to your skin.
It's also important to take care of our skin from the inside. You should stay hydrated with eight to 10 cups of water a day, and also maintain a well-balanced diet and try to get enough sleep. All these things will help boost our skin's natural repair process.
For some people, all this may not be enough, and they could develop a condition called winter eczema.
"Winter eczema is a common condition where patients get extremely dry skin and they can develop even cracks and fissures within their skin," Elbuluk says. "For some patients, it can be localized to one part of the body. For example, they might just get a hand eczema. Other people can get it more diffusely. And some of these patients may benefit from seeing a dermatologist."
For more tips on winter skincare, visit the American Academy of Dermatology at aad.org.