Cold weather affects skin whether you work inside or outside

Construction workers bundled up in the cold
Construction workers bundled up in the cold

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Midlands are seeing the kind of weather where you just want to stay inside. Whether you work inside or outside, the weather is very rough on exposed skin.

It's easy to feel sorry for the people who have to work outside in the blustery cold. "I just deal with it," said Franklin Lindler. "Over the years, you build a tolerance up. It's cold, but you learn to dress in layers."

Lindler and his crew are no doubt tough, but that doesn't mean they're not in need of a little skin care. "Everyone needs to moisturize, including men," said Columbia Dermatologist Dina Grice.

That means using lotions every day that are fragrance-free and not alcohol-based. And its also about timing, according to Grice. "People tend to moisturize at the wrong time," she said. "The best time to moisturize is after a shower when your skin is damp. Not dripping wet, but moist."

Grice says even if you work inside, artificial heat can do a number on your skin. She suggests everyone moisturize. And don't forget those lips. She says old fashioned petroleum based products work just fine.

That lotion we mentioned needs to be fragrance-free, which is not to be confused with unscented. Dr. Grice says that's scented lotion with chemicals in it to hide the smell.

Pernel Zeno's office is outside and he has to work with water all day long, but the New York native is not complaining. "Right now [in New York] it's I want to say negative eight, my brother said," said Zeno. "That's worse than this."

So Zeno and his co-workers at Constan Carwash are plowing through and suiting up. "I have two pairs of rubber gloves on, then a pair of cotton gloves and another pair of cotton gloves," said Zeno.

Workers have to set the cleaner they use on windshields in warm water so it doesn't freeze over. The towels they use to dry cars lie under big heaters when not in use.

"I dress in layers," said Zeno. "As you can see, I got about five layers on right now."

While layering up is effective, Grice says there is a less bulky option. "Technology in fiber is such now that you can achieve warmth through thin layers of clothing," she said.

Grice says to find those thin fabrics with thick protection, head to a store that sells camping and fishing supplies -- and don't forget a hat. "At least 30 percent of our body heat is lost through our heads, so hats are important," said Grice.

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