WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- If the plummeting temperatures and devastating wind chill aren't enough reason to dislike winter, dry skin can make it unbearable.
White Plains Hospital dermatologist Dr. Lesa Kelly said harsh winds, low humidity, frequent storms and indoor heating can zap moisture out of skin, which leads to the dry, itchy feeling associated with winter.
According to Kelly, those at the highest risk for dermatological issues in the winter are diabetics and the elderly.
"The elderly tend to get a specific eczema called eczema craquele, which is actually caused by dryness of skin on lower legs or hands."
Additionally, people with psoriasis, children with eczema renal patients and those on kidney dialysis are at heightened risk.
However, according to the New Rochelle native, "winter skin" can be avoided or at least minimized with a few easy steps and routine changes.
"When bathing, you should avoid harsh soaps, and use non-soap cleansers for the face such as Cerave or Aquanil," she said.
Kelly suggests using your hands and not washcloths or bath puffs - which can not only carry bacteria, but exfoliate the skin which leads to irritation in wintertime.
As tempting as a hot shower can sound this time of year, Kelly says they should be avoided.
"Hot showers tend to break down the skin's natural moisturizing lipids. A shorter warm shower followed by patting dry and applying moisturizer can help to prevent dry skin," she said.
One of the most crucial steps in preventing dry skin is paying attention to the ingredients in your skincare products.
"Take a look at your skin products for ingredients that can make skin drier. For example, alpha hydroxy can exacerbate dry skin," she said.
Additionally, winter is good time to avoid chemical peels and masks, as well as alcohol based products.
Kelly also reminds her patients that even though it's cold outside, sun protection is still crucial.
"Remember to put sunscreen on the face or cosmetics with at least SPF 15. Especially if you are involved with outdoor sports where the sun reflects off the snow's surface," she said.
Dr. Lesa Kelly is a dermatologist at White Plains Hospital and has worked in the Sound Shore community since 1988. She was born, raised and currently lives in New Rochelle, where she ran a private practice for 20 years.
Her office is located at 1296 North Avenue in New Rochelle.