Simple ways to look after your winter skin

Skin specialist Dr Angela Goyal.
Skin specialist Dr Angela Goyal.
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With New Year over now and some time left until spring, our winter health needs some attention.

Dark nights and cold weather mean we may not go out and get our regular exercise, writes Dr Angela Goyal.

We are deprived of vitamin D from the sun and many of us resort to comfort junk food eating – sound familiar?

Add in being indoors with the central heating on, and paying little attention to our skin, which is hidden away under chunky woolen jumpers, and you have a recipe for dull and dry skin.

In my dermatology clinics, those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis often tend to have worsening symptoms in the winter months for these very reasons.

So what can you do to keep your skin healthy?

MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE: This has to be my number one tip.

Indoor heating, hot showers and low humidity in the air are all reasons why your skin will dry our more in winter.

Dryness can leave you skin feeling itchy, flaky and bumpy. Use a moisturiser which is fragrance and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-free.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand – and generally the fewer ingredients the better.

SWAP YOUR SOAP: This is bad news if you have just received a load of smellies as presents!

In general, the nicer it looks and smells, the more it will strip your skin of oils.

I would recommend a gentle fragrance and SLS-free non-soap cleanser.

And, yes, a hot bath or shower does feel nice in winter but it will dry your skin.

Instead have quick shower or bath in lukewarm water.

EAT MORE GOOD FATS: Eating well in winter will not only benefit your skin but also your general health and

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Healthy fats are something that many of us lack in the western diet but our skin needs them as does our whole body.

We don’t produce essential fatty acids so we have to obtain them through our food.

Eat plenty of essential fatty acids, which can be found in foods such as olive oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, oily fish, avocado, spinach and broccoli.

Be aware that your skin may be a tell-tale sign for some other problem in your body.

For some people, itch can be caused by iron deficiency anemia or eczema, allergy or intolerance. If you have any concerns about your skin, see your GP for advice.

For me personally I find that, as well as the above, eating nutritious vegetables and outdoor exercise in winter helps me to have a healthy skin glow.

Dr Angela Goyal is a GP who also has 10 years’ experience specializing in skin and holds dermatology clinics in Leeds. She also shares tips on a healthy living blog https://www.facebook.com/drangelagoyal/. Dr Goyal (facebook@drangleagoyal / @drangelagoyal) appears on Made in Leeds TV speaking on health issues and speaks regularly at local and national medical conferences n skin and nutrition.