The Dos & Don'ts Of Defending Against Skinflammation This Winter

As we hunker down, Ashleigh Cometti talks to a beauty expert about guarding against weather-affected inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, dermatitis and eczema

A gentle touch with skin during winter is the key to combating seasonal skin concerns. Photo / Mara Sommer

Inflammation is the body’s clever and protective response to injury — a clear sign that your immune cells are joining forces to fend off environmental aggressors like harmful bacteria. The same is true for skin, hence the nickname “skinflammation”.

“Skinflammation is a term used to describe any inflammatory skin concern or problem,” says Charmaine Moukarzel, clinic manager at About Face Sylvia Park.

“It usually shows as redness, heat, sensitivity, itching and dryness on the surface of the skin. Some of the contributing factors could be diet, hormonal imbalances, genetics and environmental factors as well as incorrect product usage.”

Cooler climes are often to blame — exposure to artificial heat sources like heat pumps and fireplaces can cause excessive dryness, making the skin feel and appear drier and duller, Charmaine says.

READ: Everything You Need To Know About Acne

“Artificial heat sources draw a lot of moisture from the skin, which can leave it feeling tight or taught. In some cases, it can result in flaky skin, which is a sign of severe dryness or dehydration.”

There are a number of skin conditions linked to skinflammation, including rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema, but it’s important to note that most aestheticians won’t diagnose any of the aforementioned — in most cases a trip to the dermatologist is recommended. Read on to discover the four primary forms of skinflammation and the do’s and don’ts of  soothing what inflames you.

ROSACEA is a skin condition most commonly found in fair skin tones and presents as redness on the cheeks and/or nose. It can also appear as small bumps on the skin, sometimes mistaken for acne.

DERMATITIS is an inflammatory condition that comes in a few forms. It presents itself as a red rash, is usually itchy and in severe cases, can cause some discomfort.

ECZEMA is an internal condition that has no known cure. It is the most common skin condition worldwide — it appears as dry or red patches and can affect any area of the body. There are also many types of eczema.

PSORIASIS is a skin condition caused by genetics. It is related to an immune condition — the skin cell turnover should be every 28 days but for someone with psoriasis it is a lot faster. The skin cells cannot slough off quickly enough which results in red or silvery patches that appear on the skin. It can be present on any area of the body, including the scalp and nails. Treatment depends on the type of skin condition in question, as well as its cause, Charmaine says. Unfortunately, because most of these conditions are chalked up to internal factors, it can be difficult to rid the skin of it completely. But there are a few things you can try to alleviate symptoms in the short term.

A gentle touch with skin during winter is the key to combating seasonal skin concerns. Photo / Mara Sommer

DO Use topical antioxidants and calming complexes
Skin-soothing ingredients like centella asiatica, dilo, arnica and green tea, along with vitamins B5, C and E will be your saving graces when it comes to reducing redness, restoring hydration levels and rebuilding your skin barrier. Charmaine’s picks? Environ Focus Care Comfort+ Vita Enriched Colostrum Gel, $90 and Environ Focus Care Comfort+ Vita Enriched Antioxidant Gel, $68. “Dilo is also an amazing ingredient to help with inflammation and can be found in the Pure Fiji Dilo Anti-Ageing Booster Oil, $65, which is cold-pressed, pure dilo oil. This is great on any skin inflammatory conditions,” Charmaine says.

DON’T Apply active ingredients
Depending on the severity of your skinflammation, you should avoid applying any products that are too active, at least until the inflammation is under control, Charmaine says. Steer clear of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic and lactic acid, chemical peels or harsh exfoliants, all of which can worsen your skin’s condition and compromise your barrier even further.

READ: Ever Wondered How To Layer Skincare Acids? Here's How

DO Try LED Light Therapy
Calm and soothe inflammation in the clinic by coupling LED Light Therapy with an alginate mask (a setting mask which restores hydration levels and is suitable for all skin types). LED Light Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses coloured wavelengths of visible light for their specific skin benefits, like rejuvenating damaged skin cells or killing off acne-causing bacteria. Like any in-clinic treatment, an in-depth consultation is always recommended before treatments begin.

DON’T Eat inflammatory foods
“Certain foods like sugar (especially refined sugar), milk and gluten can increase inflammation in the skin,” Charmaine says. Instead, treat skinflammation internally with a good diet, lots of water and supplements. Opt for antioxidant-rich wholefoods such as berries and green leafy vegetables, and supplement with Omega-3, vitamin C and zinc. “There are also some great antioxidant supplements available that give extra added protection from environmental damage that can exacerbate skin inflammation,” Charmaine adds. Try The Beauty Chef Antioxidant Inner Beauty Boost, $50.

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