Birmingham-area dermatologist explains how to protect your skin in the cold

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - While you really should stay indoors during these frigid temperatures, sometimes you have no choice and you must brave the arctic temperatures.

Protecting your largest organ, your skin, is especially important when temperatures drop below freezing because injury such as frostnip or frostbite can happen quickly, sometimes before you’re even aware.

“Are your hands like, super super cold to the point where you can’t feel them anymore so they’re getting numb?” asks Dr. Stacy Haynes. “Before they get numb, they’ll start to burn, tingle, sting. If you happen to look at it and it’s red - we call it red white and blue - you may have a frostbite.”

Dr. Haynes is a physician and dermatologist with offices in Hoover and Oxford. She’s warning people about how you can protect your skin during this cold spurt because most in the south aren’t used to this kind of cold.

Before anything, she recommends staying inside if you can. If you are forced outdoors, she’s says you need to layer up on every inch of skin that could be exposed to the weather elements.

Besides the frostbite potential, that cold air and wind can irritate and dry out your skin too.

“If you’re just going to just be inside the house, you want to think about some Aquaphor,” said Dr. Haynes. “It’s very heavy and oily, holds on to moisture, keeps your skin from getting dry and cracky.” She says Vaseline also works well.

If you’re going outside though, she stresses to avoid the oily moisturizers.

“You don’t want to hold on to too much moisture because what is the moisture going to do? Think about it,” she said. “When you get moist and the temperature gets below 32, 31 degrees Farenheight that it could start to actually freeze and get really cold so you want to be sure and stay dry.”

She recommends finding a creamy lotion instead that you can rub in and it dries up quickly. She adds that sunscreen is also important for your face, because those harsh sun rays can still penetrate your skin whether it’s hot and sunny or cold and cloudy.

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