Skin through the seasons 

I am sure you must have experienced changes in your skin with different seasons. Did you know that the skin actually undergoes changes with the seasons?

The skin being the largest organ of the body provides us with the necessary protection from the environment around us, including the changes in seasons. With this change our skincare routines should be adjusted to maintain healthy skin. Some of the chronic skin conditions eczema, psoriasis, acne, melasma and rosacea all show seasonal variability.

THE FUNCTION AND STRUCTURE OF OUR SKIN

The skin has two main layers; the epidermis and the dermis with the former being the uppermost layer, consisting of epithelial cells. The epidermis is the barrier to the outside environment. It keeps bacteria, toxins and water away as well as acting as a barrier against ultraviolet light and allergens.

The dermis is a thick layer made up of connective tissue, hair follicles, sweat glands and blood vessels. The dermis is made predominately of collagen and elastin and gives the skin its flexibility and strength.  Beneath the dermis is the subcutaneous tissue consisting mainly of adipose and connective tissue.

SEASONAL CHANGES

The barrier function of the skin adjusts between summer and winter. More specifically, the changes occur in the natural moisturising factors (NMF) and the protein filaggrin, which maintains the barrier function.

How can we adjust our skin routine according to the different seasonal varieties so maintain the skin health?

SUMMER, WARM WEATHER

One of the biggest focuses in the summer is on UV radiation, which, although should be treated with caution, does come with the benefit of vitamin D production. Vitamin D is crucial for the skin as well as the body. It helps with cell differentiation, cutaneous immune function, sebaceous gland and hair follicle function.

If you live in a country with limited sun and warm weather, there is the possibility of taking vitamin D supplements. There is a recommendation to expose your limbs to sunlight for 20-30min, however with great caution as the risk of skin cancer should always be taken into consideration.

HIGH TEMPERATURES

High temperatures during summer months make the oil glands secrete more sebum, mixing with sweat. This is what gives your skin that sweaty appearance. This could make acne worse, along with the humidity increasing fungal infections such as impetigo and athletes’ foot.

WINTER, COLD WEATHER

During the colder months the extreme changes in temperature from the cold outdoors to heated indoors can affect the capillaries; causing them to expand and contract at quite an unnatural rate.

During the winter the skin’s barrier can be affected, making it dry and cause redness. Treatment in the colder months is all about hydration which helps with the natural moisture production. A well-conditioned and moisturised skin is less likely to experience complications in the winter.

The major factors affecting the skin during the different seasons are temperature, UV radiation and humidity. To maintain your skin’s health consider vitamin D but please don’t forget SPF if you expose yourself to sunlight. Safety is first priority!

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