Our skin is constantly working to maintain our body temperature, whether this be done by the dilating and constricting of blood vessels or by the regulation of the skin’s moisture. This is arguably most evident during the winter months when many individuals experience incredibly dry skin. Even though it seems as though we never see our skin or other’s skin in the winter, it is still vital that we take care of our body’s largest organ (even if it is under multiple layers of clothing). What is the best way to care for our skin during the winter? The answer is simple- cover up and moisturize your skin. By doing so, dry, cracking skin is limited and the risk of infections are significantly decreased. For those who are immuno-compromised or have comorbidities such as diabetes mellitus, skin care is a constant concern. Below, you will find tips for winter skin care for various parts of the body with a particular focus paid to diabetes skin care.
Use a moisturizer with sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. You are just as likely to get sunburn in the winter as you are in the summer.
Lips are exposed to the cold air just as much as the rest of the face. Use lip balm to keep the lips moist, however purchase products with only a few ingredients. Avoid herbal ingredients as they may cause irritation and instead opt for petroleum, mineral oil, or shea butter-based products.
Keep your hands covered as much as possible. Furthermore, moisturize as often as possible (both inside and outside) with the same simple ingredient products mentioned above.
Refrain from itching dry skin which may be covered. This is especially important for individuals who are at an increased risk for infection as skin may be broken open.
Avoid extremely hot showers as these can further contribute to dry, itchy skin.
For those with diabetes mellitus, peripheral neuropathy can contribute to lack of sensation and feeling in the feet. This can become particularly troubling if there is dry, cracking skin, or open abrasions on the feet. For this reason, particular attention should be paid to moisturizing and caring for feet in the winter months.
While it is important to keep the feet moisturized during the winter, it is wise to avoid moisturizing between the toes. Prolonged moisture between the toes can increase the incidence of fungal infections and lead to further complications.
Tip for home
Use a humidifier in your home to keep moisture in the air.
Work cited: Winter Skin Guide: Head-to-toe tips for cold-weather skin care by Allison Tsai [Diabetes Forecast Sept/Oct 2016]
Article by Ryan Zavodnik, UWGB Dietetic Intern