Dr Ian Webster
Dr Ian Webster

Lockdown Skin Issues

We’ve had many reports from customers telling us that they have noticed a deterioration in their skin’s condition since the beginning of the South African COVID-19 lockdown which commenced on the 25th of March 2020.

This might seem contrary to the belief that one’s skin should be getting some extra restorative TLC, but based on the volume of reports we’ve received, there is evidence to suggest there are more factors to consider …

Changes to your routine

Routines are highly evolved systems that we essentially optimise around one thing: balance. I think a lot of the changes we are hearing about tells us how much of a role external and behavioral factors play in the health and condition of our skin, especially if we are continuing with our normal topical products. The good news, as human beings, we are able to reprogram ourselves and our routines fairly quickly, once we figure what isn’t working within new parameters.

Stress

General uncertainty, financial strain, missing physical contact with loved ones, these factors can cause stress and anxiety and this can also affect the skin. It can trigger acne breakouts and aggravate conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Our best advice to minimizing stress levels is to do breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or whatever else you find helps to decrease your stress levels. Most often we simply learn to live with stress, but its also good to learn to recognise when we are feeling it, and know the steps (or learn new ones) for managing it.

Diet

The kitchen and fridge are very accessible. Excessive amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol can all play a role in the condition of our skin. If you are prone to acne, do not ingest excessive amounts of dairy products. Brightly coloured foods contain more antioxidants that protect the body. Always keep yourself well hydrated.

Sleep

We’ve heard and read of many people struggling to sleep during the lockdown. Much of this is likely linked to stress. Other factors might be a lack of exercise or increased alcohol consumption (for those who were prepared!). Another less-considered factor is the over-use of devices that emit a steady amount of blue light. Studies have shown blue light can not only keep us awake but can also penetrate deep into the skin, damaging collagen within the dermis (which we now have specialized sunscreens to prevent against). We advise switching your device to emit a more yellow light (certain devices have this feature) avoid use right before bed, or just try spending less time on them where possible.

Sleep and the skin is an extensive topic but the summarized version is your skin could be negatively affected if you aren’t getting a healthy amount of quality sleep, as it is ultimately a biologically regenerative process.

Cleansing

Gentle cleansing is vitally important. It’s easy to get lazy and not use your cleanser as religiously as you otherwise would, especially in the evening. Sometimes just feeling the day’s ‘build-up’ on our skin is the motivation you need to cleanse at night.

Two skin type tips:

  • For dry skin you need only to cleanse at night and use a Micellar water to freshen the skin in the morning.
  • For oily or combination skin we recommend cleansing twice a day in the morning and evening.

Longer hot showers or baths

Perhaps it feels more comforting, or the weather is getting cooler, or you simply have more time, but showering or bathing for too long can cause unnecessary skin dryness ultimately leading to an impaired skin barrier. If the skin on your face or body is feeling dry or irritated, try not only keeping your baths or showers shorter but also make them less hot which can remove healthy natural fats from the skin. A good tip is to use a good body moisturiser directly afterward, helping to lock in moisture.

Using products you otherwise wouldn’t use

Last minute pressure buying or a lack of better choices has lead some of our customers to using skincare products they otherwise wouldn’t have ever used. This goes back to our first point of how we carefully optimize our routines, finding what works best for us. The skin can quickly change based on new products being introduced, and not always for the better.

Vitamin D & supplementation

If you are confined to a small stuffy space during lockdown, take 15 minutes a day to stand outside and get some fresh air. Getting an air humidifier to put moisture into the air of your home is a good idea if you don’t have one. The lockdown period is also an opportunity to rest and build up your immune system. I would recommend taking a good multivitamin every day, a probiotic for gut health and additional Vitamin C if your immune system is not so robust. Depending on where you live i.e. no outdoor area, you may not be getting as much sun exposure at present and it is therefore advisable to take at least 600IU of Vitamin D daily – as this also boosts your immune system.

Over-washing of hands

Repeated hand washing, especially with soaps that are more alkaline, can adversely affect the barrier function of the skin. To avoid full-blown irritant contact dermatitis, we recommend using a good quality hand cream regularly.

For everyone, these are totally unprecedented times. Not being able to freely move around and go about or normal day to day lives changes everything, so one can also naturally expect some changes to our skin.

Posted in LEARN / LATEST ARTICLES on April 11th, 2020.

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