How the Climate Affects Your Skin
Extreme climates—cold and dry, hot and humid—can wreak havoc on your skin. Here’s how to protect your skin from the elements:
Cold, Dry Climates
Cold temperatures often accompany low humidity that dries your skin. Bitterly cold winds can also dehydrate skin. During the winter months, your skin may become rough, red, tight, cracked or peeling due to dryness.
Some skin conditions such as eczema can flare up in dry weather. To combat dry skin and control eczema, avoid long, hot showers or baths, use a mild soap to soothe your skin and moisturize daily.
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Hot, Humid Climates
In warmer climates, high temperatures and humidity lead to sweating. Perspiration can irritate skin and trigger breakouts, especially if you have oily skin. Wash your skin as soon as possible after you sweat. A cleanser with salicylic acid can dry up excess oil but may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use products containing salicylic acid such as a salicylic acid cleanser once a day and only at night. If your skin is dry or sensitive, limit salicylic acid use to once a week to avoid irritation.
Heat can also cause other skin problems, including heat rash. Heat rash occurs when sweat ducts get blocked, trapping moisture under the skin and causing a rash (blisters or red lumps) to develop. Heat rash usually goes away without intervention after a few days. However, you should see a doctor if the rash gets worse or you notice signs of infection such as increased pain, swelling, redness or warmth around the affected area; pus draining from the lesions; a fever or chills; or swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin.
Daily sun protection is important regardless of where you live. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater every day, year-round, even when it’s cloudy or raining. Put sunscreen on first and then apply your makeup, even if it also contains sunscreen. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you’re swimming, sweating or spending a lot of time outdoors. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Traveling from one climate to another can shock your skin and trigger skin problems. Take steps to prepare your skin before traveling to a different climate. If you’re going skiing or to any cold weather destination, start moisturizing several days before your trip to hydrate skin cells. If you’re headed to the beach, cleanse and exfoliate your skin to keep your pores clear. In either case, be sure to pack your broad-spectrum sunscreen.