Aspirus | Aspire | Winter 2019 3 WINTER SKIN Weather the wear and tear Sarah Hostetler, MD TALKTOYOURPROVIDER For more winter health tips, talk to your primary care provider. If you need help finding a health care provider, go online to or call the Aspirus Customer Contact Center at 800.847.4707. WINTERWEATHER can leave your skin worse for wear. And since you have no choice but to wear the skin you’re in, that’s nothing to ignore. Fortunately, there are simple ways to cope with the season’s dry air and the itchiness it can bring, said Sarah Hostetler, MD, dermatologist at Aspirus Dermatology Clinic. DRESS FOR SUCCESS. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and dress in layers, with loose-fitting cotton clothes next to your skin. Sweating and overheating may irritate your skin, but layering clothing allows you to regulate your temperature by removing garments as needed. “If you have heart disease or other circulation problems, you’re more likely to get frostbite,” Dr. Hostetler said. “Make sure you bundle up before braving the cold. And if your skin reddens or starts hurting, head indoors right away.” WASH WISELY. Hot water and soap can cause your skin to lose natural oils. It’s best to use warm water with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and to pat your skin dry with a soft towel—don’t rub it. Then apply a heavy layer of fragrance-free ointment or cream. Do this within a few minutes of finishing your bath or shower, while your skin is still damp. It helps the skin retain moisture it absorbs during bathing. Be sure to limit your bath or shower to no more than 10 minutes. Beyond that time frame, your skin may lose more moisture than it takes in. SLATHER ON THE SUNSCREEN. Apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going outdoors. Put it on your face, hands and any other part of your skin that may be exposed. Even in winter, the sun can take a toll on your skin. Those with sensitive skin or allergies should look for sunscreen without fragrance, PABA, parabens or oxybenzone. PLUG IN A HUMIDIFIER. A humidifier will add moisture to the air. If you can check your home heating system, find out if you have a humidifier on the system—and whether it’s working. SAVEYOURSKIN Talk to your provider about any skin concerns you may have. To find a primary care provider at an Aspirus location near you, go online to or call the Aspirus Customer Contact Center at 800.847.4707 . body temperature drops too low. Older people, babies, people who stay outside too long and those under the influence of alcohol are all at increased risk. Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. To avoid hypothermia, wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Cover your head with a hat. Wrap a scarf around your face and mouth. Protect your hands with a pair of mittens. And dress in several layers of loose-fitting clothing. 3.Seeksolidfooting. Icy sidewalks and driveways are fall hazards to people of any age, but can be particularly perilous for older adults. Each year about one-third of all people 65 and older take a tumble. Some of those tumbles end in broken bones. One solution for slick surfaces is to carry your own de-icer: a zip-top bag filled with lightweight kitty litter that you toss on surfaces ahead of you. Or, if things look too slippery, try walking on grass instead of concrete. You can also winterize your shoes and boots by attaching spikeless traction devices to the bottom. Look for these at sporting goods stores. And if you need to climb steps to get in and out of buildings, always use handrails on your way up and down. 4.Shovel snowsafely. The safest way to shovel snow may be to hire someone else to do the job. But if you must clear the white stuff yourself: w w Shovel early and often to avoid heavy, packed snow. w w Whenever possible, push snow instead of lifting it. w w If you do lift snow, do it right: Squat, with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. And limit your lifts to small amounts of snow. w w Don’t throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion can strain your back. Deb Safford, APNP