Dr Sunil Kumar Prabhu, Senior Consultant Dermatologist and Aesthetic Physician, Aster RV Hospital
Winter is particularly a challenging time for skin and normal individuals and those with skin disorders face a difficult period. The prolonged chill with reduced humidity impairs our skin barrier function and leads to loss of water from skin that makes the skin dry, brittle and irritated. Winter is right around the corner and it means it is that time of the year that makes us deal with dull, dry, and pale skin, thanks to the cold. Perfect skin is always a challenge in the winter season. Itchy, dry, and generally unhappy-looking skin can all be because of the lack of external and internal nourishment.
Some of the common skin concerns during winters are Xeroxis, Ichthyosis, Eczemas, Atopic dermatitis, Psoriasis and all conditions with disorders of keratinization of skin face a particularly difficult situation.
Acne or pimple management needs a bit of altered treatment since some medications used for this condition further dries the skin and creates an irritated inflamed face. Anywhere between 30 to 50 % of these skin disorders running into a few hundred patients need specialized management of the condition with additional moisturizers and other medications.
A middle-aged patient with Nummular eczema presents to the skin department with multiple areas of itchy and dried skin areas with redness and the skin is inflamed and irritable. A young child diagnosed with atopic dermatitis also has what we call Flare up of the Dermatitis and comes with multiple areas of redness and irritation. An older patient aged 75 years also presents with sudden increasing dryness and irritation of skin with flakiness seen in the arms and body. All these cases represent the worsening of the condition across all age groups and so extra care during this period is needed. All cases need a good moisturizer and other medications mixed with these agents and proper adequate warm clothing is required provided pure cotton fabrics are used otherwise the other synthetic fabrics may irritate skin.
Hair fall is perennial and can happen throughout but during winter quite a group of people develop increased dandruff due to reduced humidity and untreated dandruff can cause itching, an unhealthy scalp and sometimes lead to hair fall which is mainly hair shaft breaks. Management for dandruff is good antifungal shampoos and other medications like oral antifungal in few severe cases. Hair falls due to other reasons like male pattern baldness and Telogen effluviyum also continue during this season and careful management with non-drying medicines and good oral supplements and balanced diet may be needed to balance the hair conditions.