Skin care in cold winter months

Dermatology exam room at Rapid City Regional Health.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Cold winter weather can negatively impact our skin.

Dr. Siri Knutsen-Larson, a dermatologist at Rapid City Regional Health, says that since our skin is so important, skin care shouldn't be an afterthought.

"In our dry climate in South Dakota, we definitely see a drop in humidity which comes with the colder winter months," said Dr. Knutsen-Larson. "Because of that, we definitely see drier skin, as well. Something that I tell my patients almost every single day is dry skin is itchy skin, and itchy skin rashes. So, the biggest thing I take care of in these months would be that drier skin that can turn into the rash that can be uncomfortable for patients."

Knutsen-Larson says that hot showers feel nice in the winter, but the heat can dry out your skin. This is compounded by people not moisturizing to make up for the dryness.

For homeless people who may spend significantly more time outside in the cold than others, frostbite can pose a huge problem.

"It [frostbite] is going to cause the vessels in the top of your skin to constrict because your body is trying to preserve as much heat as it can," said Knutsen-Larson. "As a result, some of the areas that don't have as good of circulation-- we're talking maybe the tips of the ears, fingertips-- those areas, if they're not covered from that direct cold, are going to be more prone to frostbite, which is an injury to the vessels underneath the skin that can lead to skin breakdown."

And what about sunscreen during winter months?

"I think something people really forget about in the winter is their sunscreen," said Knutsen-Larson. "I talk to people about this all of the time, just because it's cloudy out, or just because it's snowing out, does not mean that you don't need sunscreen."