The most important thing you may do for your health this winter is get your skin checked. While a great number of people take on-board the sun-smart message during summer, it is often neglected during the winter. When the temperature drops or you haven’t seen the sun in days, don’t think you can put away the sunscreen. Even in the winter and on cloudy days, it’s important to guard your skin against cancer and aging.
But as winter sets in, all too often our skin gets covered up and forgotten. If you want to avoid a nasty surprise when next springtime comes and you uncover again, you need to take some simple steps in winter.
1.Be good to your skin!
Hot, cold, wet, dry or windy conditions can all dry out your skin. Ignoring your skin because it’s covered in winter woollies leaves you prone to cracking and drying out. This can be sore and itchy, but also makes you prone to skin infections. Moisturise at least once a day, and ideally three or four times to keep cracked, dry skin at bay. Lotions only last a short time – for intensive treatment ask your pharmacist about emollient creams and slather all over.
2. Use sun protection cream – even during winter
During the winter season our skin is luckier because we wear warm clothes that cover most of our body. But the UV rays are present even during the cold seasons, therefore it is important to use sun protection cream even during the cold season.
3. Squamous and basal cell cancers
All new skin changes that don’t go on their own should be checked out just in case. Your doctor can usually reassure you but may arrange minor surgery to cut out the growth and check it under a microscope.
4. Diabetes alert
Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes makes you more prone to skin damage, as the nerve supply can be affected so you don’t feel injuries. Feet are a potential trouble spot. Always wear socks and well-fitting shoes to avoid rubbing, wash your feet daily with warm water and soap and moisturise. Trim your toenails every six to eight weeks but don’t cut too short at the edges.
Additionally, winter may prove to be the best time for a full skin check. As most people are covered up during the winter months, this minimises sun exposure to skin lesions and moles. This can allow for better dermoscopy viewing (a distinct magnifying light, which allows a doctor to closely examine spots on the skin). Sun exposure can cause a mole to transform slightly which can make a normal mole appear suspect. If you notice a spot on the skin that looks different from the others or is changing, bleeding or itchy, it should be examined by a doctor.