Winter in the High Desert means long, dry winters and year-round sunshine. While outdoors, our skin is exposed to these extreme conditions—often at high altitudes—and this can cause a plethora of skin issues like peeling, winter sunburn and dehydration. Peters Dermatology Center, whose providers specialize in the treatment and prevention of skin cancer, gave us an overview of their winter skin treatments, recommended products, and skin cancer screenings.
Q. What products do you recommend for this time of year?
With dry, sunny conditions, a thick, moisturizing sunscreen serves two purposes, protection and moisture. Products such as Elta MD, Tizo or Alastin are excellent and offered at our center. Heavier creams are more suited for dry winter weather.
Your cleanser should put moisture into the skin, rather than taking it out. Look for products that specifically say ‘gentle’ and ‘moisturizing’ on the label. Avoid products that contain alcohol, as these can be drying.
The skin below your neck needs just as much care as your face. Look for liquid, gel, or mousse cleansers, labeled ‘fragrance-free’—the creamier the better! For patients with eczema, products that contain petrolatum, shea butter, and silicones are best.
Lighter lotions may not be enough to protect your skin from the elements in colder, drier climates. Look for creams, oils, or balms with jojoba oil or Hyaluronic acid.
Moisturizing your body while your skin is still damp after a shower or bath is an effective way to keep skin hydrated. This is because the moisturizer traps existing moisture in skin. Other ingredients that work well for dry skin are glycerin, mineral oil, petrolatum, and shea butter.
Q. What types of skin issues do you see the most in Central Oregon?
The most prevalent skin issue in Central Oregon due to our outdoor lifestyle and plentiful sunshine is, unfortunately, skin cancer.
Q. Why is sunscreen still important in the winter?
Whether skiing, snowshoeing, walking, or running, exposure to the sun and its reflection on the snow can increase total UV exposure. Your sunscreen should offer broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and have an SPF 30 minimum with active ingredients of zinc and titanium dioxide which are physical sunblocks. Peters Dermatology Center also offers Sunday afternoon hats, arm sleeves and gloves to help keep your skin protected throughout the year.
Q. What is involved in skin cancer screening?
Skin cancer screenings consist of a thorough head to toe exam of the skin. Returning patients with a recent history of skin cancer should be seen every six months while someone who has had a recent melanoma or is immunocompromised should be seen every three months until their schedule is changed by the provider. Typically, a patient who has been skin cancer free for two years can be seen annually, while someone who has never had a skin cancer or precancer and follows daily skin protection precautions while out in the sun can be screened every 18 - 24 months. If a patient develops a suspicious lesion they should be seen as soon as possible, especially if it is fast growing.
"Whether skiing, snowshoeing, walking, or running, exposure to the sun and its reflection on the snow can increase total UV exposure."
—Peters Dermatology Center