Skincare during winter

We are all washing our hands more frequently and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers which is imperative to prevent germs and keep us healthy but can cause havoc with our skin. I am seeing a lot of patients who are struggling with dry, flakey, itchy and sometimes painful skin, especially on their hands.

Skincare is important especially as we start to get older because the skin is more susceptible to skin infection and skin diseases due to the changes that take place to skin as we age.

In warmer climates like South Africa we have usually spent our summers in the sun which in excess and without sun protection can also cause damage to the skin. Sun damaged skin is weaker and acts as a less protective barrier. Our skin is part of our immune system and we need it to be a strong protective barrier to keep the moisture in and protect us from harmful substances and germs from penetrating the skin.

As we age our skin becomes less supple, thinner and dryer. It injures and bruises more easily, and heals more slowly. As a result, seniors are prone to skin problems ranging from itching, scaling and mild dryness to severe skin conditions such as infection and ulcerations. Skin wounds or conditions that are not healing need to assessed by a doctor.

Here are some tips for you to follow:

  • Wash your hands with soap in lukewarm water, not hot or cold, for at least 20 seconds and wash every part of your hands, including between your fingers and around your fingernails.

  • Dry your hands with a clean towel but leave a little water on them, whilst your hands are slightly damp, apply your preferably fragrance-free hand cream or ointment.

  • Try to wash your hands with soap and water instead of hand sanitizer but if you are out and not able to wash your hands, use a sanitizer that contains 70% alcohol and moisturize your hands directly after applying the sanitizer.

  • For the skin on your body keep showers or baths short and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a towel. Whilst your skin is damp, apply a cetamacrogol based cream to your body twice a day.

  • Avoid aqueous based creams as moisturizers but can be used to cleanse your skin in the bath/shower.

  • If outdoors for longer periods of time than the advised 20-30 minutes for your Vitamin D dose please apply sunscreen and wear a hat.

  • Remember to drink fluids to remain hydrated from the inside too.

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