In the summer months we keep hearing everywhere how we should protect our skin and even our eyes to avoid the dreaded sunburn, but also the appearance of spots, allergic reactions, bites, discomfort from sea salt or the chlorine in the pool… However, «when the temperatures drop, if I have seen you, I don’t remember. “No one asks us for advice anymore,” laments dermatologist Ana Molina, who recalls the importance of dermatological and ophthalmological care also in winter.
“Cold, wind, rain, heating and continuous temperature changes affect both the skin and the eyes, which usually react to all these external aggressions with a sensation of dryness, tightness, burning or itching,” agree the experts. specialists. These are some recommendations to take care of these two organs during the months when the cold hits.
Sunglasses and humidifiers
In the case of eye health, “the cold directly affects the eyes. In fact, winter is the worst season for people with dry eye problems. Low temperatures and lower environmental humidity increase the evaporation of the tear film that covers and protects the eye, and which is essential to keep its surface soft and free of irritation. This dryness can be especially uncomfortable in places with central heating, since the hot and dry air found inside buildings can cause added discomfort,” explains Elena Barberan, head of visual health services at General Óptica.
The wind doesn’t help much either. «It acts on the eyes in a similar way to cold, since it also accelerates the evaporation of tears, which usually causes irritation and redness. If it also carries dust particles or allergens, the feeling of discomfort worsens,” adds the optician-optometrist. For their part, people who live in places where it snows regularly and winter sports lovers should protect their eyes from ultraviolet rays with appropriate sunglasses. Experts advise using “polarized lenses with total protection against UVA and UVB.”
To take care of our eye health, it is also advisable to drink water even if you are not thirsty (it helps maintain tear production) and use humidifiers to combat environmental dryness. If we do not have one, a good alternative is to place a ceramic container with water on the radiators, in addition to using artificial tears to facilitate hydration of the cornea. Another expert tip: blink often and eat a diet rich in vitamins (A, C and E) and antioxidants. “With adequate protection and a small change in habits we can prevent the eye discomfort typical of winter,” summarizes Elena Barberan.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
As for the skin, Dr. Molina remembers that “hydration is to winter what sunscreen is to summer, so the key is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.” The first thing we usually notice when it’s cold is a lot of dryness, especially in our arms and legs. All seasons affect the skin in one way or another, but winter is one of the hardest. As with the eyes, cold, wind, heating… make the skin dry. «And what do we do? Well, scratch us. And if we scratch it, it stings more because rubbing it releases histamine, which is a substance that increases itching, and we enter a vicious circle. The trick is to take advantage of a ‘flaw’ of the skin in our favor to deceive it. As she is a bit ‘dumb’, it is difficult for her to transmit two different sensations at the same time, such as, for example, itching and cold. This way, if we apply cold when it itches, the itching will stop. And if that cold that we apply is a thick and cool moisturizing cream, we will do good magic,” advises Dr. Ana Molina.
In addition to dryness and tightness, as the mercury drops “there is also a vasoconstriction effect (the blood vessels become narrower) that hinders blood flow and the microcirculation responsible for providing blood, oxygen and nutrients to our entire body, including the skin. For this reason, it is more common for the epidermis to look duller in winter than in spring or summer,” explain the specialists from the Beauty and Wellbeing Unit of the Pedro Jaén Group. All these effects are multiplied if the wind also blows.
One last piece of advice from specialists: “be careful not to sit near radiators because it encourages the appearance of spider veins and varicose veins.”