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Winter Skin Care: Midwest

Chicago dermatologist Mary Massa, MD, says Midwest winters can be cold, snowy, and windy, especially in Chicago, which has earned its "Windy City" nickname.

The heat gets turned up inside when temperatures drop, stripping indoor air of humidity. Plus, windy days can present special problems, she says. "It increases the dryness and adds irritation."

Moisturizing every day can help. Massa tells patients to pick a product based on their skin’s dryness. Consider a heavier, cream-based moisturizer for extremely dry skin. If it’s mildly dry, a lotion moisturizer is probably OK.

For patients who don’t like heavy creams, Massa suggests using a lighter lotion in the morning because it absorbs faster and won't stain clothes as much. Reserve the heavier moisturizer for bedtime use.

Winter Skin Care: Southwest

States in the Southwest, including Arizona, have low humidity year round, Scottsdale dermatologist Bill Halmi, MD, says. "It's exacerbated in the winter," he says. "People do turn on the heat once in a while." Halmi says, "In the Southwest desert area, it's a constant battle against dry skin. In the winter, we need to double our efforts."

Besides the low humidity, there are a lot of hard water issues, Halmi says. "If water is hard, and you use bar soap, it won't come off easily," he says. His advice is to either use liquid soap, such as a moisturizing body wash, for face and body or treat the water with a water softener.

He also reminds Southwest residents to continue using sunscreen even when the temperatures decline in the winter months.

Winter Skin Care: West

Winter skin care advice for those on the West Coast depends on the region they live in, Sacramento dermatologist April Armstrong, MD, says.

"San Francisco has milder winters and the air is often less drying than inland weather," she says. On the coast, there tends to be more moisture than inland. San Francisco's well-known fog is also good for the skin, she says, because of its high humidity.

Central California can turn cold and dry in winter, so people there should moisturize their skin more.

Sunscreen is key to keeping skin healthy in states like California and Hawaii since they get more sunshine than other states during the winter.

That's especially true for winter skiers who can get an extra dose of UV radiation when the sun reflects off the snow.

Winter Skin Care: Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest can get a lot of rain and some snow. Never mind that the moisture level outside is 100% thanks to all that weather. "When you heat indoor air, the relative humidity is very low," Seattle dermatologist Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD, says.

"You are more likely to need moisturizer in the indoor heated air for sure," he says.

He favors moisturizers that contain glycerin, and he says most people don’t put on enough moisturizer. Nghiem advises applying a layer of moisturizer thick enough that it doesn't absorb for about 30 seconds.

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