Risks to skin

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The dreary British weather can play havoc with our skin, especially for those with existing skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Each winter our body is exposed to harsh changes, leading the blood vessels in the skin to change rapidly to account for the fluctuating temperature.

This can leave the skin looking flushed, red and weather beaten.

Wind, rain, central heating and soggy clothing can all irritate the skin, so here are some tips to help keep skin in good shape this winter.

Make sure you’re moisturising regularly and using an emollient that’s right for you – keeping skin moist is imperative to avoid it getting cracked and infected.

Be careful with the kinds of clothes you wear. Some materials, for example, lamb’s wool may irritate skin and cause flare-ups.

One of the best and simplest ways to combat the winter effects on skin is to regularly apply moisturisers and lip salves. This will help replenish the lost moisture from the skin. All skin types benefit from a moisturiser.

Avoid harsh, alcohol-based cleansers and soaps. Stay away from cleaning products that contain alcohol and go easy on the exfoliation.

Protect skin with warm clothing (a scarf, hat and gloves) whilst outside. If the rain makes your clothes damp, ensure that you change into something dry as soon as possible and don’t leave wet clothes in contact with your skin which may cause further irritation or chaffing.

While it’s natural to want to stay warm indoors, even the central heating can affect our skin. The drier air in centrally heated buildings means the skin can dry out, so try not to turn the thermostat up to maximum.

Avoid the temptation to have a long hot bath, as this can strip away much needed natural oil from the skin. Try and shorten the length of time and remember to keep the water temperature warm not hot.

Apply a moisturiser to skin straight after a bath or shower while the skin is still slightly damp. Drying your skin vigorously with a towel can damage it, so pat dry and don’t rub.

Dr Bav Shergill,

Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation Trustee.

British Skin Foundation,

4 Fitzroy Square,

London W1T.