MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Winter weather can create challenges for skincare. The frigid temperatures may cause existing conditions to worsen or create new problems for those with sensitive skin.
Dr. Mohiba Tareen is a board certified dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Tareen Dermatology in Roseville. She said excessive use of sanitizers and masks require extra care for the skin.
“We’re seeing lots of rashes, both bacterial and fungal infections under these masks,” Dr. Tareen said. “It’s important to invest in your skin. It’s your largest body organ. It helps protect us from all of the elements.”
Cracks can have dangerous consequences without proper treatment.
“Those cracks [in the skin] can often let bacteria in, fungus in,” Dr. Tareen said. “We see people who get infections and even have to be hospitalized due to their eczema that cracks. It’s really important to prevent the cracks.”
Anne Bartel said her husband experienced the impact first hand.
“My husband got cracked skin on his elbow and ended up with a blood infection, “ Bartel said. “ I mean that [cracked skin] can be serious. “
Other skin challenges are linked to aging.
“A lot of older people as we age, we get cracks in the corner of the mouth just from aging called a marionette line,” said Dr. Tareen. “The yeast from our saliva gets trapped in those marionette lines and then you can actually get a rip roaring fungal infection and it can be uncomfortable.”
When it comes to cracked skin, prevention starts with the products.
“A secret ingredient that dermatologists love is called dimethicone,” Dr. Tareen said. “Dimethicone is actually a silicone derivative and it actually forms a seal over your skin. It helps repel water so you don’t get those little cracks that can get painful over time.”
VASOLINE OR PETROLATUM
If you’re wearing a mask and licking your lips, the mask could mask a serious problem.
“People are getting cracks in the corner too just from lip licking because the saliva – which you know, under your mask you’re trying to lick your lips to get some hydration – that’s actually what you should not be doing,” Dr. Tareen said. “The saliva has an acidic pH which can then lead to the breakdown of the skin.”
Dr. Tareen said lip care is key.
“It’s really important to use a bland emollient like vasoline or petrolatum underneath the mask so you prevent that lip licking,” Dr. Tareen added.
How masks are used, worn, and cleaned matters too. The lack of proper care can cause existing skin conditions to worsen.
“It’s really important especially with disposable masks that you’re getting rid of them. They shouldn’t be worn too many times,” Dr. Tareen said. “With our cloth masks –which are better for the environment — make sure you’re washing them. I recommend a non-scented hypoallergenic detergent so you’re not having scents and fragrances and allergens consistently on your face.”
Dr. Tareen said nasal rashes are common, but more so this year because of constant mask wearing. The most common is a bacterial infection called “impetigo.” Sometimes the infection can overgrow, leading to a kind of honey-colored crusting.
“Sometimes that impetigo can be a sign of a resistant bacteria ,” Dr. Tareen said. “That often will need an oral antibiotic.”
SALICYLIC ACID OR GENTLE PEROXIDE
In addition to rashes, acne is also linked to increased mask wearing.
“People are getting a lot of oil production and it’s getting concentrated under that mask so people are seeing lots of blackheads, lots of painful pimples and cysts, “ Dr. Tareen said. “Something you may want – to be a little clean— use a little over-the-counter salicylic acid or a gentle benzel peroxide. The nose is a more sebaceous area, a more oily area, you may want to just do that acne regime, just limit it to the nose, not the rest of your skin this time of year.”
CLEANSERS, MOISTURIZERS, HYLORONIC ACID
Dr. Tareeen said replace foamy summer cleaners with creamy cleansers during the winter, to avoid disrupting your skin barrier. Consider transitioning to a jar-based moisturizer for deeper hydration, ingredients like hylornic acid can make a difference.
“Hyloronic acid is a very deeply hydrating molecule that takes up 1,000 times its weight in water,” Dr. Tareen said. “It really gives that dermal deep hydration.”
In Minnesota, extra Vitamin D can benefit your skin.
“Another great DIY tip is to take a little extra vitamin D,” said Dr. Tareen. “Vitamin D is really important in the winter months because in Minnesota we’re not able to manufacture Vitamin D from the sun as much.”
For Minnesota Resident Mary Gooding, skincare is crucial. She enjoys the outdoors.
“I am a skin cancer survivor: 7 years. I was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma and taking care of our skin is so important,” Gooding said. “ I’m a true Minnesotan. I grew up in South Dakota. We do have a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. We embrace winter. We cross country ski. We snow shoe. We spend a lot of time outside.”
Other tools for protection include probiotics.
“Ingesting probiotics like greek yogurt, kombucha, some kimchi, those things rev up your gut and help the immune system of your gut defend your skin,” Dr. Tareen said.
A humidifier can make a difference too.
“You want to invest in a good humidifier and put that in your bedroom,” Dr. Tareen said. Hopefully you’re spending 6 to 8, hopefully 9 hours in your bedroom every night so you’re getting that humidity while you’re sleeping,” Dr. Tareen said.
CONSULT A DOCTOR IF NEEDED
Some conditions may be too tough to tackle alone. Minnesota Resident Randy Johnson battled a rare skin condition for years.
“It was my legs, the back of my arms, my stomach my back, it was just terrible. It would just flake off, skin all over; in the house, in the bed everywhere,” Johnson said. “I would go out in the sun, I would burn like a crisp the first time in the sun so I could peel all this crap off of me.”
A trip to the doctor made the difference.
“I don’t have to do that anymore,” Johnson said.