Winter Skin Care

As we age, our daily regimen often needs to adjust

By Sue Baldani

While it’s important to take care of our skin all year round, there are certain issues that can arise or get worse when the weather turns cold. Some can be allayed with high quality over-the-counter products, whereas others may necessitate a visit with a dermatologist.

“In winter months, we tend to see more issues with dry and itchy skin,” says Dr. David Balle, a board-certified dermatologist with Grosse Pointe Dermatology & Cosmetic Center in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. “It’s a time of year when some things, like eczema and psoriasis, tend to act up.”

Fortunately, there are quite a few things we can do at home to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. Here, he gives us some helpful tips and product recommendations.

“When showering or bathing, use a mild, gentle cleanser,” he says. “Using harsher soaps may dry or strip the skin of its natural oils.” He recommends Dove®  for Sensitive Skin as well as CeraVe®  brand cleansers. “Secondly, when taking a shower or a bath, don’t linger, because the longer we’re exposed to water, the drier our skin becomes in the winter.”

It is also critical to use a moisturizer after each bath and shower. “What I usually recommend and what I use myself are CeraVe moisturizers,” says Dr. Balle.

As we age, he explains, adhering to a skin regimen becomes even more important. “Studies have shown that we produce less moisture in our skin than we did at a younger age, so moisturize daily for preventative maintenance.”

Grosse Pointe Dermatology offers its own moisturizing cream. “We make a super-rich moisturizing formula that’s often very helpful for areas that have thicker, drier skin with thicker scales, like hands and feet,” he says. “That’s something unique we offer our patients, and they absolutely love it.”

For the older population, Dr. Balle also recommends cutting down on the amount of showers and baths we take. Instead of every day, every other day may suffice, and he says to only use cleansers on necessary areas. Using our hands to clean ourselves is also gentler than using a wash cloth or loofah.

“When we’re younger, I think using a washcloth is a great idea, especially for the facial area where we produce more oil,” he says. “But, we tend to produce less oil and have less moisture in our skin naturally as we get on in age.”

He says using a hyaluronic acid serum is also helpful. “By 45 to 50 years of age, it’s thought that we’ve probably lost almost 50% of the hyaluronic acids that we naturally have in our skin,” says Dr. Balle. “Hyaluronic acids are molecules and agents that hold onto moisture and water in our skin. So as time goes on, not only do we produce less moisture, but we hold onto it less effectively.”

If you follow all the tips above, but you’re still itchy, it might be time to see a dermatologist. “A lot of times when people have itchy skin, they may need more help,” he says. “Chronic dry skin may eventually turn into a mild form of eczema, and they may need prescription level medication or cream to manage that.”

Severely dry, itchy skin, says Dr. Balle, can also be an sign of something more serious such as a thyroid or autoimmune disorder, or sometimes even cancer, which is another reason to visit a dermatologist. “Dr. Google never went to medical school,” he jokes. “When we see things online, we don’t really know where that information is coming from. Anybody can call themselves a skin care specialist and many do, but only board-certified dermatologists have spent four years in college, four years in medical school and have had four years of residency training, as well as continued medical education classes. We know how to properly evaluate, study, and determine what is safe, effective, and advisable.”

As a dermatologist, he also has the knowledge and expertise on ways to help us look our best by using a number of anti-aging and cosmetic treatments, like Botox, fillers and microdermabrasion.

As a Grosse Pointe Farms resident, Dr. Balle enjoys being involved in the community. “I’m on the city of Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation Board, and work as part of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce,” he says. “I’m also on the advisory board of the Helm.”

Dr. Balle also loves spending time with his dog Stella, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. “She’s a sweetie and a joy in my life. I’m just very blessed.”

To find out more, go to https://grossepointedermatology.com/.

Written for Grosse Pointe Lifestyle magazine in Michigan.

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