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  • Rajani Katta MD

Skin and Ski: How To Protect Your Skin On Your Next Ski Trip

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

Can't you just picture it now? That sparkling expanse of pristine white snow. That cold, bracing air. That long, long soak in the hot tub to soothe your pleasantly aching muscles. All highly anticipated--and all problematic for your skin. Before you head out for your ski trip, remember to take a few extra precautions to protect your skin. 1. That beautiful expanse of sparkling snow is a perfect reflective surface.

As in, reflecting UV radiation. It's easy to forget when it's so cold outside, but the sun is still shining. And in high altitudes, with UV radiation reflecting off the snow's surface, it's easy to get a significantly stronger dose of sun than you realize.

That gleaming, pristine expanse of white snow is a perfect reflective surface for UV radiation.

That's why, every year, I see friends and colleagues return from their ski vacation with the "ski goggle sign": normal skin around the eyes (where it's been protected by ski goggles), with a sunburn on the rest of the face.

The ski goggle sign: a sunburn on your face (everywhere except where protected by your ski goggles)

It really doesn't matter what the temperature is. Pack your sunscreen.

2. That cold bracing air can do real damage to your skin. So can the wind.

For patients with dry, sensitive skin, it's very important to maintain an intact and well-functioning skin barrier. Extremes of temperature can damage the skin barrier. So can harsh winds.

What does this mean? Dry skin is more common in the winter. Dry skin, though, means that your skin barrier isn't functioning optimally. As your skin barrier becomes even more damaged, from wind and extremes of temperature, you have a higher risk of developing inflamed skin. Inflamed skin may be a mild nuisance to start with, but it can easily worsen. As inflammation worsens, you may develop the red, cracked, itchy patches that signal eczema.

Dry skin can be treated with moisturizers (the right ones), while eczema usually requires medicated ointments. That's just one more reason why the right protective gear for the harsh elements is so important.

3. Which brings me to my next ski skin hazard. That long soak in the hot tub.

It may feel great to get out of the cold weather and sink into hot, hot water, but if you don't take a few precautions to protect your skin, you could end up with inflamed skin.

Allowing moisture to evaporate from your skin after a bath or shower can damage your skin barrier.

Extremes of temperature (that long, hot shower) can damage the skin barrier. But what happens when you step out of the tub or shower can be even more of a problem.

When water evaporates from your skin, it pulls moisture with it. That's why it's so important to apply a moisturizing cream or ointment to the skin after a bath or shower, while your skin is still partially damp.

This one simple step can prevent eczema. It's also important to use the right kind of moisturizer, especially if you have dry, sensitive skin. Don't just use the lotion that's sitting on the bathroom counter of your hotel room. Lotions are formulated to contain a higher proportion of water. That means that lotions just don't lock moisture into the skin as well. A moisturizing cream or ointment , such as the type that comes in a tub or a jar or a tube, is the best option to lock moisture into your skin. For more details on the proper moisturizing technique, check out this post. The bottom line? When you're heading out for that ski trip, make sure you pack your sunscreen, your gloves, and your moisturizing cream.

Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.

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