On Your Winter To Do List: Watch the Winter Olympics and Protect Your Skin

Merely Me Health Guide
  • It is winter!  How do I know?  Other than the fact that I am seeing about five inches of snow outside my window, the fact that the 2010 Winter Olympics will officially begin on February 12 is another strong clue.  The Winter Olympics is being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this year which is one of the mildest of climates they have had for the Winter Olympics.  As a matter of fact, some recent news reports say that they might have to import snow.  A lack of snow just might make things difficult for the skiers and snowboarders.  They can take some of ours!  A complete list of events can be found on the official Vancouver 2010 web site detailing each sport such as speed skating, ice hockey, luge, snowboarding, and my personal favorite, figure skating.  

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    As you are sitting there watching the Winter Olympics you may wonder what you could possibly have in common with these Olympians.  One thing we do share in common with these athletes is that we all have to protect our skin from the winter elements.


    Maybe we won't be doing the luge but we may be out several times on a snowy weekend to take the kids sled riding.  Perhaps we won't be trying out for any figure skating medals but we may decide to go for a run in the cold weather.  And instead of waiting for a chairlift to go skiing we may be stuck waiting for a bus after work in the bitter cold and wind.  Okay so you get the gist.  At some point we are going to be out and about in the cold and this sort of weather can be harsh to anyone's skin.


    Here are some suggestions of how to protect your skin this winter especially if you are active outdoors:

    • The Winter Olympic athletes this year will most likely not have to worry about frostbite with the temperate climate they are going to, but depending on where you live, you might. Here is an article I wrote about the prevention of frostbite.

     

    • It is easy to get chapped skin in the winter due to being out in sleet or snow and having the moisture evaporate and dry out your skin. Wear water repellant clothing when out in wet weather so that moisture does not seep through to your skin. If you are doing activities like sled riding or playing in the snow, make sure to come in periodically to get a change of dry clothes. If do any sort of vigorous activity outdoors where you are going to sweat, wear synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene for those layers closest to the body, as they will not trap moisture.

     

    • Some athletes who compete in the cold will use rub Vaseline on their body to prevent friction as well as to keep them insulated from the cold. Winter sports athletes may also cover their face with Vaseline as a barrier to wind and cold. Let it be known that in recent years there has been some controversy over using Vaseline for skin care. In my limited search for any research to back up claims that Vaseline may be harmful in any way, I haven't found any. So I will leave this one open to members to let us know their thoughts and hopefully provide any research to support your theories.

     

    • Don't forget your lips! Winter is especially harsh on our lips. They can become dry, chapped, or even cracking if we don't take preventive measures. Try to avoid licking your lips as this will make things worse. Choose a lip balm with a sunscreen and remember to use it before you have problems. For more tips please see our information page on preventing and soothing chapped lips.

     

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    • Skip the long hot showers. If you are prone to dry skin or even eczema, long hot showers can actually dehydrate your skin and make the situation worse. It is better to take short showers with warm water in the winter months.

     

    • Put your moisturizer on right after your shower when your skin is still damp. This will keep the moisture in your skin instead of allowing it to evaporate from the surface. Most of the literature out there will say to use an oil based moisturizer because our bodies are producing less oil in the winter months. If you have trouble with acne please consult with your dermatologist about which moisturizer is best suited for your skin type.

     

    • Last but not least, don't forget the sunscreen! Just because it is winter doesn't mean that the sun does not have the power to cause skin damage. Your best bet is to use a moisturizer with SPF protection of 30 or higher.

    I hope you all are having a wonderful winter.  Have fun watching the Winter Olympics and remember to protect your skin when you get outside in the cold weather.  If you have any winter skin care tips to share with us don't be shy!  We always love to hear from you.

     

Published On: February 01, 2010