Cold Weather Survival Tips for Acne

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You might not have stopped to notice it yet, but fall is upon us and with each new season, comes new skin concerns. Temperatures are starting to drop and that distinct autumn wind is picking up steam, which means your skin, especially if you have acneic skin, is under attack. 

Many people don’t realize that harsh weather conditions can have an effect on acne, and some of the common topical agents that treat acne can cause serious side effects, drying out the skin and making acne worse. 

“Cold weather tends to dry the skin out, making it more irritated when typical acne products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxides are used. Retinoids such as Retin A and Tazorac may also be more irritating in dry weather,” says West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. “One good way to help minimize the irritation is to switch to creams in the winter instead of more drying gels. Also, start using some moisturizer that is non-comedogenic to keep your skin really hydrated,” he says.

Also a big “no-no” for our skin in cold weather is scrubbing. “Yes, you get really oily skin with acne, and yes you want to get rid of oil, but when you scrub your face clean, you don’t want to scrub off the moisture in your skin. Then your face will look like cracked bark and your skin will look red, but for a different reason,” says Los Angeles dermatologist Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD. And Dr. Beer agrees. “Don’t scrub. Don’t use astringent. Don’t use a lot of alcohol. Mild products will tend to give you better skin in the colder months,” he says. 

New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, adds, “The number one thing I see is people overdoing it. They see a breakout coming on and over-use product. What people don’t realize is that over-treating the skin can lead to over-drying, redness and sometimes, further breakouts,” she says.

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