protecting skin in winter

Protecting skin in winter

Protect you and your family’s skin this winter by following this advice to protect and prevent common conditions.

Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? It also contains hair follicles, oil glands, sweat glands, nerves and blood vessels and has many roles to play in keeping you healthy.

Firstly, it works like a barrier to protect your body from the environment. It also regulates temperature and detects and fights off infections, while nerves in the skin let us feel things such as touch. At this time of year, the colder air can dry out skin, making it twice as sensitive and in need of some moisture and hydration. Skin can become dull and irritated, and can lose up to 25% of the ability to hold on to moisture. There are a few ways of protecting skin in winter – for you and your family.

Be careful with central heating

Although heating may keep the home nice and toasty, it will only produce hot, dry air, leaving little or no moisture in the air. Constant changes in temperature, from indoor dry heat to outdoor cold air, can also increase the amount of oil produced by skin, which can lead to acne breakouts. This can also cause dilation of blood vessels in the face, which could cause swelling.

Try an air humidifier

An air humidifier will pump cool mist into the air, reducing dryness and giving your skin some well-needed moisture! If you want something more cost-effective, leaving bowls of water close to sources of heat in the home will also do the trick. The heat will cause the water to become warm and evaporate into the air, putting an end to dry air. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that there is some form of air humidification in several rooms of the home.

Use non-bio laundry products

Sensitive skin is also at risk of reactions to certain laundry products. When buying detergents take note of the chemical ingredients in a product. For instance, bio detergent will contain enzymes, designed to remove tough stains, and fragrances, which are used to cover up the chemical smell and make the detergent more appealing.

However, for those with extra sensitive skin, this can cause allergic or negative reactions, resulting in rash and irritation. This is especially important when it comes to children. Non-bio detergents are enzyme-free and there are also fragrance-free detergents available.

Drink water

Drinking the recommended daily amount of water (two litres) will allow your skin to hold on to moisture. Skin is an organ, containing cells that are made up of water, so when there is not an adequate amount of water getting to the skin, it won’t be at its best. Water acts like a moisturiser, but from the inside out.

More you might like:

How to boost your family’s immunity
Baby bath basics
First aid essentials

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.