As we age, our skin tends to become drier due to our body’s decreased production of oils, cumulative sun damage, hormonal changes and even certain medications we take. In the wintertime, the decreased humidity and dry indoor heat can make already-dry skin feel even tighter and itchier, says Brenda L. Pellicane, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Icon Dermatology & Aesthetics in Rockville.
To keep skin hydrated as outdoor temps drop, Pellicane recommends using a humidifier, bathing only once a day, drinking water and, of course, moisturizing. “You should look for a fragrance free, thick moisturizing cream and apply it immediately after bathing,” she says. Her favorite drugstore moisturizer is CeraVe, which contains hyaluronic acid to attracts moisture to the skin and ceramides to maintain the skin barrier.
Moisturizing is especially important now that people are washing and sanitizing their hands more frequently due to COVID-19. “I’m seeing more hand dermatitis, and some patients have allergies to certain products in hand sanitizers, like propylene glycol, so check the labels before you buy it,” Pellicane says.
The pandemic has also introduced a new concern: “maskne,” or acne caused by wearing a mask. Pellicane reports an increase in skin conditions on the face, which she attributes to a combination of friction and trapped moisture from masks.
The dermatologist advises everyone to change and wash their masks routinely and to take breaks from mask wearing when it’s safe to do so. She also recommends cleansing with a salicylic or glycolic acid face wash and refreshing the skin with a toner like Epionce Purifying Toner throughout the day. Minimizing makeup under the mask could also help.
For people with naturally sensitive skin, it’s all about finding the right mask. Pellicane likes machine-washable Thera-masks, which are made from fabric designed to reduce facial contamination.
If your dry skin or maskne continue to worsen throughout the season, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your dermatologist. Many practices are offering telemedicine to keep patients safe during the pandemic.
“People also shouldn’t try to diagnose themselves,” says Pellicane. “They might do things that can make the issue worse.”