Skincare Tips for When You’re Sick

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

While your skin may be the last thing on your mind when your whole body aches and you feel like a train just ran over your head, it’s still important to care for your skin when you’re home sick.

Having the flu or any virus 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 sanitizing your hands to fight the flu, here are the top ways to protect your skin during cold and flu season.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential for both your body and your skin. Replenish your skin barrier with ceramide-rich moisturizers and drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin from the inside. Hydrating will also prevent cracking around the nose and mouth, decreasing susceptibility to infection.

Drinking water also helps you feel better and could aid in a quicker recovery by flushing out the virus.

Protect Your Skin

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 and reduce redness by constricting capillaries.

Mind the Nose Area

If the tissue box has become your best friend, your nose area is probably paying a hefty price.

Rehydrate your skin with a heavier moisturizer.

You can even apply Vaseline for cracks around your nose. You can also use Vaseline inside your nostrils or for any areas where you need to repair 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

Indoor air in the wintertime tries to get moisture from anywhere it can. Humidifiers are great for adding moisture back into the air and preventing your skin from drying out, even when you’re not sick.

Make sure to keep your humidifier clean, as these devices can be moldy if not washed well.

Ditch the Extra Products

Less is more when thinking about how to take care of your skin while 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.

Follow a more gentle routine with a hydrating cleanser and cream moisturizer to repair cracked skin, then go back to your regular routine when you (and your skin!) are feeling better!

Avoid Acne Breakouts

The flu can dry out your skin and 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.

Ensure the water is warm—not hot—and keep your shower to about 10-minutes in length.

The soap you’re using in the shower should also be gentle. Look for fragrance-free formulas and avoid anything that says it’s perfumed or exfoliating.

You’ll also want to apply lotion after the bath or shower while your skin is still damp. This will help lock in the moisture.

Keep Hand Cream Handy

You’re probably washing your hands throughout the day to avoid making other family members sick.

All that hand washing will undoubtedly lead to dry and scaly hands. Keep hand lotion within arm’s reach of the sink so you can slap it on directly after washing.

Protect from Outside Elements

If you must venture outdoors when you’re sick, ensure your skin is adequately protected. Even if it’s freezing outside, the sun’s rays can still harm you.

Apply SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face before you head outside. Sun damage could mean dry and peeling 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 and prevent blood vessels from expanding in the cold.


Dermatology Experts Near You in NY, NJ, PA, and CT

At Schweiger Dermatology Group, our experienced, board-certified dermatologists offer customized treatment plans for all types of skin conditions.

Call us at (844) DERM-DOC to set up your consultation today. To find a location near you, check out our location pages. We look forward to working together to find the best treatment for your skin!

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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