Most chronic skin conditions typically cause stress to the body, and in winter season, that added stress can lead to increased flare-ups— a never ending cycle which unfortunately makes the condition harder to deal with. According to the first World Psoriasis Happiness Report, people living with severe psoriasis in some countries report up to 30% lower levels of happiness than their fellow citizens.
As the days become darker and the weather becomes colder, now is the best time to take control of your skin before it takes control over you. But how? Below is a list of skincare tips and tricks to follow this winter season to help overcome everyday challenges and situations bound to arise:
1. Find an emollient that is suited to your skin, and use it regularly
For mild skin flare-ups, emollient and moisturiser therapy will be a general practitioner’s first choice of treatment as they reduce skin scaling and dryness, and normalize cell proliferation and differentiation. The regular use of emollients in combination with steroid treatment (e.g. products applied to the skin that contain active medical ingredients) can also minimize the need for intensive steroid treatments.
2. Avoid ‘drying’ soaps when showering
As part of a good skincare routine, the way you shower is an important part of managing your dry and irritated skin, as too much water can dry you out quickly. Limiting the length of the showers and keeping the temperature low can help minimize this. Any standard soap, even a mild one, can also have a drying effect on your skin because it removes the skin’s natural lipids. Therefore, avoiding standard soaps in the shower and switching to a fragrance-free ‘emollient wash’ is highly recommended.
3. Choose cotton or silk, and avoid tight-fitting, synthetic fabrics
Tight clothes and shoes oftentimes irritate skin and cause uncomfortable flare-ups. To avoid this, try not to wear synthetic clothes, such as polyester or nylon, since they can’t get washed at high temperatures. This can be a challenge if you’re regularly using emollients and moisturizers with a high fat content unable to be washed out. Instead, try to wear clothes made primarily of cotton that can tolerate higher temperatures. Cotton and silk are fabrics that are breathable and less likely to irritate or overheat your skin.
4. Shave, don’t wax
In general, cutting or shaving hairs is more gentle to your skin compared to pulling out hairs. As waxing will cause irritation to the skin, gentle shaving is recommended instead of waxing. Avoid putting the wax directly on tricky skin flare-ups like psoriasis plaques, as this will cause bleeding and aggravation. Since tweezers, epilators or other methods of pulling out hairs might worsen your skin condition, try to reach for the razor, instead.
5. Remember that you’re not alone
Dealing with the emotional impact of chronic illnesses starts with remembering that you’re not alone. Providing yourself the tools to be happy, thinking about what’s most important to you, and making the time for it will keep you calm, relaxed, and in best control of your skin condition — whether it’s eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, or something else. The World Psoriasis Happiness Report also reveals 34 percent of U.S. respondents feel they lack companionship, compared to the global average of 26 percent. It’s important to remember that there are many forums and support groups available online.
At the end of the day, there’s no single solution that can bid your skin condition adieu, but following the aforementioned steps is one way to make living with it more tolerable this winter season.
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Dr. John Zibert is the Chief Medical Officer at LEO Innovation Lab. He holds a B.Sc. in microbiology, M.Sc. in Human biology and a Ph.D. in medicine. John has been carrying out International clinical research on skin diseases and cancers for over a decade, with several publications in high-tier peer-reviewed journals.