Keeping your skin happy in the cold
Say goodbye to dry, flaky skin during winter travels with these tips
While it is necessary to take care of your skin daily, it is even more important to do so when on vacation somewhere dry and chilly.
With more Singaporeans travelling abroad for winter holidays, cold climates can trigger many common inflammatory skin conditions such as xerosis (dry skin), rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.
Dr Angeline Yong, consultant dermatologist at Angeline Yong Dermatology, told The New Paper: "Patients with these skin conditions are more sensitive to the winter weather.
"Cold temperatures and low humidity suck the water and oil from skin, making it dehydrated and prone to dryness and cracking, which can cause bleeding.
"Aside from exacerbating dry skin, cold weather can also initiate flare-ups that can result in itching, scratching and infection."
With some preparation and a few precautions, you can prevent skin flare-ups from ruining your holiday.
For those with xerosis, Dr Yong recommends packing ointments and creams that contain plant oils or butters such as olive oil, jojoba oil or shea butter as they trap existing moisture in the skin.
She said: "I personally like a combination of both ceramides and hyaluronic acid in moisturisers."
Other must-have items include lip balms, fragrance- and soap-free skincare, gloves and smooth-textured clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton or silk.
Eczema sufferers can add thick moisturisers and petroleum jelly to their skincare essentials to protect their skin barrier and lips respectively.
Travellers with psoriasis should keep vitamin D supplements and thermal gloves at hand as they often experience arthritis.
Wearing waterproof and insulated gloves help protect joints from cold conditions.
Prescription medication and sunscreen are crucial if one has rosacea, a chronic condition that affects different body parts, and you can protect against the winter sun and UV flare-ups by applying zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens.
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At the holiday destination itself, Dr Yong suggests keeping the daily showering time to five to 10 minutes and the water at room temperature, as hot water can wash away natural oils.
"If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin's oily layer and cause it to lose moisture."
To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges and washcloths; only pat or blot the skin when towelling dry.
It is then essential to moisturise within three minutes of showering to lock in the moisture and protect the skin barrier.
Other tips include steering clear of harsh skincare products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoid as well as both alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.
Acknowledging that finding the right moisturiser is a challenge as the condition of one's skin changes in different climates, Dr Yong said the best moisturiser is one that the user feels comfortable with.
"There is no point prescribing a product that may be effective at sealing moisture in but the patient feels is unacceptable in terms of texture and 'tackiness'.
"(But it is important to note that) because of the climate change, what one feels may be too thick or oily in Singapore's humid climate may be more acceptable and comfortable in a colder, drier climate."
Additionally, while relaxing in your accommodation, plug in a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Also use a hypoallergenic laundry detergent to soothe the skin during winter.