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Skincare Tips for When You’re Sick

Oh no, you’re sick. What does this mean for your skin?

According to the media, we’re experiencing the worst flu season in decades and possibly ever. While your skin may be the last thing on your mind when your whole body aches and you feel as though a train just rain over your head, it’s still important to care for your skin when you’re home sick with the flu. “Having the flu is an enormous stress on your body, which always shows on your skin,” says Dr. Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Murray Hill. “Your skin gets dry and irritated, your eyes start to look puffy, and it’s an open invitation for cold sores and other skin issues.” Take note: If your skin develops a rash while you have the flu, it’s time to call the doctor. Besides Purell-ing your hands around the clock to fight off the flu in the first place, here are the top ways to protect your skin during cold and flu season.

Stay Hydrated

This means for your body and your skin, replenish your skin barrier with ceramide-rich moisturizers and drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin from within and prevent cracking around the nose and mouth that can increase susceptibility to infection. Drinking water also helps hydrate your skin from the inside out, not to mention it helps you feel better and could aid in a quicker recovery by flushing out the virus.

Protect Your Skin

You’re probably in no mood to head out to Sephora. Take some Tylenol and place an Amazon primed order stat. When searching for skincare products to help soothe the skin, look for ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin. “These are helpful by rehydrating and protecting the skin barrier, especially when it is dried and irritated in flu season,” says Dr. Farber, who recommends products such as CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or Neutrogena Hydroboost. Extra tip: Keep your skincare moisturizers in the refrigerator. Cold skincare products can help soothe skin even more as well as reduce redness by constricting capillaries.

Mind the Nose Area

If you’re tissue box has become your best friend, chances are your nose area is paying a big price. First, rehydrate your skin with a thicker moisturizer or even apply Vaseline for cracks around your nose. Also use Vaseline inside your nostrils or for any areas where you are extra red to repair more cracked skin. If your skin is really red, a moisturizer with a slight green tint can help neutralize deeper redness. A cream formula that will last longer can be helpful for extra coverage.

Use a Humidifier

The indoor air in the winter time is trying to get moisture from anywhere it can. Humidifiers are great for adding moisture back into the air and preventing skin from drying out, even when you’re not sick. Just make sure to keep your humidifier clean as these devices can be moldy if not adequately washed.

Ditch the Extra Products

Less is definitely more when you’re thinking about how to take care of your skin when you’re sick. Stop using your exfoliating products until your skin heals. When you exfoliate, you’re stripping skin of natural oils that could aid in keeping it hydrated. You can also skip the masking session. Your skin could be extra sensitive during this time and could develop an irritation from a mask. Stick to a more gentle routine with a hydrating cleanser and cream moisturizer to repair cracked skin, then go back to your normal routine when you (and your skin!) are feeling better!

Avoid Acne Breakouts

The flu can dry out your skin, which can lead to further skin issues. But Dr. Farber warns that using occlusive or heavy creams for dry skin for too long can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. “Using gentle, non-comedogenic creams and skin products on flu ravaged skin is the best way to repair it to its normal state without breakouts,” says Dr. Farber.

Keep Showers Short

Taking a hot bath or shower might be the only relief you can get when you’re sick, but if your skin feels like it’s about to flake off, it might be best to dial it down a bit with the hot water. Make sure the water is warm—not hot—and keep them to about 10-minutes maximum in length. The soap you’re using in the shower should also be gentle. Look for fragrance-free formulas and stay away from anything that says it’s perfumed or exfoliating. You’ll also want to apply lotion right after the bath or shower, while your skin is still damp. This will help lock in the moisture.

Keep Hand Cream Handy

Chances are you’re repeatedly washing your hands throughout the day so as not to get other family members sick. All that hand washing will undoubtedly leady to dry and scaly hands. Keep hand lotion with arm’s reach of the sink so you can slap it on directly after washing.

Protect from Outside Elements

If you have to venture outdoors when you’re sick, make sure your skin is properly protected. Yes, it’s freezing outside, but that doesn’t mean the sun’s rays can’t harm you. Apply SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face before you head outside. Sun damage could mean dry and peely skin, which is the last thing you need when you’re sick. For extra protection, you can smooth a thin layer of Vaseline over your face before going outside. This will help protect the skin from windburn as well as prevent blood vessels from expanding in the cold.

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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