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Winter skin tips from a local dermatologist

The hustle and bustle is upon us and holiday stress tends to spread to the skin. Long to-do lists, extra family to feed and finding the perfect gift all adds anxiety to our lives, which in turn affects our skin. We call these holiday rashes and it’s more than just dry skin.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. John Phillips of Dermatology Specialists of Florida has seen an influx of skin conditions during winter months. He says the number one issue which leads to skin problems is stress.

“One of the common things we see during the holidays from stress is acne breaking out,” Phillips said. “I also have people with psoriasis and eczema that tends to flare during the holidays because of stress.”

There are things people can do to help prevent these flare ups.

Phillips said maintaining a balanced diet can help, along with getting enough sleep and exercise, as well as being mindful. Finding different ways to manage your stress and relax during this busy time of year will help not only your skin, but your overall health. Dermatologists can also recommend some treatments depending on how severe the conditions get.

General good skin care coincides with healthy living habits, Phillips said.

“Exercise and getting your body moving is good for your skin, whatever you can do. If you can get 10,000 steps in a day, that’s a good goal,” Phillips said. “It can be anything from riding a bike to swimming. It increases circulation and rejuvenates the skin.”

Another thing that is associated with holiday rashes that people don’t realize is overindulgence in food and alcohol.

“Rosacea can get worse with overindulgence in wine, caffeine and spicy food,” Phillips said. “Acne tends to flare up because of the overindulgence in some of the inflammatory food like the chocolates and sweets.”

Whether we realize it or not, food affects the skin.

“There is a connection between the skin and the gut,” Phillips explained. “It’s kind of the connection between the microbiome of the gut and the skin. So as dermatologists we like to recommend that patients take probiotics for that and it can help their skin.”

Another thing common because of overindulgence during the holidays is a flare-up of eczema, not just from stress, but from certain foods, particularly cheese, eggs and nuts.

Phillips said we consume a variety of food and drinks during the holidays that our bodies aren’t used to during the year, including eggnog, cheese boards and sweet pies.

He says something like a Mediterranean diet is the best thing you can do for your skin – a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, and unsaturated fat. It reduces inflammation which is good for your health overall.

“I think the most important thing for people to be aware of is everything in moderation,” Phillips said. “Maintain a balanced diet, proper amount of sleep and exercise. In addition to that, probiotics actually might help the skin quite a bit.”

Colder weather can also trigger issues with dry skin, which can make other conditions worse.

“As dermatologists we recommend moisturizers every day, at least twice a day, particularly after a lukewarm bath, not a hot bath,” Phillips said. “Hot water tends to dry the skin out.”

For moisturizer, the dermatologists recommend using a product like CeraVe that helps the body hold on to moisture. Phillips himself even uses the CeraVe PM facial moisturizing lotion.

Contrary to common belief, the dermatologists at Dermatology Specialists don’t recommend using products like Chapstick in the colder months because they have ingredients that your body continues to need.

“Your skin can become somewhat addicted to it,” Phillips said. “It makes the skin feel dryer, so people tend to reapply it over and over again.”

Instead, Phillips recommends using lip balms with beeswax in them like Burt’s Bees because they are natural.

Another common condition during the holidays is the occurrence of cold sores, from stress or overindulgence.

“One of the things I recommend for that is to see your dermatologist if you’re really prone to cold sores, but we also recommend people not to kiss under the mistletoe,” Phillips said laughing.

Dermatology Specialists of Florida
2053 Fountain Professional Court, Suite B

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