How to take care of your skin during the silly season

Friends celebrating Christmas or New Year eve. Party table with champagne.

Our Q&A with consultant dermatologist Dr Andrea Tomizawa

1. What are some common skin issues people may encounter during the silly season (and why)?

With the festive season upon us, Christmas parties and end-of-year celebrations are in full swing, so it can be easy for all thoughts of healthy eating and intensive skincare routines to go out the window.

Prolonged sun exposure, excessive alcohol intake and sugary foods consumed during this period may contribute to inflammation throughout your body as well as in the skin. The following are some of the most common skin issues people may encounter during the silly season:

Acne: Foods high in sugar (or specifically, foods with a high glycaemic index) such as lollies, ice cream and white bread, cause spikes in the body’s insulin levels that may provoke inflammation throughout the entire body.

Steep insulin spikes increase the production of skin oils and contribute to the clogging of follicles, which may lead to breakouts in acne-prone skin. The same happens with alcohol, as it not only dehydrates your body but also the skin too.  Drinks and foods with high refined sugar can exacerbate the inflammation around the oil glands and lead to damage of the underlying collagen, worsening your skin’s complexion.

Rosacea: Rosacea is a condition that causes redness and often small, red pustules on the face. While experts are not sure what causes rosacea, the silly season can bring about factors that may make it worse. For instance, it may be triggered by alcoholic beverages, spicy foods, sunlight, and stress.  Gentle sensitive-skin moisturisers can help soothe rosacea-prone skin and, together with avoiding known triggers, can help to avoid unwanted flares.

Sunburn: The longer hours of sunlight during summer can mean more hours outside in the hot Australian sun. A severe sunburn can be extremely damaging for your skin. However, prevention is always the best approach.

If you have sensitive or oily skin, use a sunscreen that is specifically formulated, hypoallergenic with ingredients like vitamin E and Aloe Vera to nourish and protect delicate and sensitive skin. Other sun protection measures such as a broad-brimmed hat, tight-woven clothing and UV-tinted sunglasses go far to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation.

2. What are your top tips for keeping your skin under control during this time as well as getting rid of silly season pimples?

Keeping skin under control during this time can be difficult but there are many simple things you can do to rid those silly season pimples.

  • Applying a face mask weekly is a simple and convenient addition to your skincare regime, to reduce oil production and inflammation. It can help to minimise breakouts and may even speed up the healing process and remove impurities from the face. Choose a mask that suits your skin type. For example, acne-prone skin may benefit from ingredients including sulfur, antioxidant vitamins, and botanicals, for example the Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask. Together, these ingredients can assist in absorbing excess oil, clearing pores and blemishes, while soothing and conditioning your skin.
  • If your skin is dry and irritated, avoid harsh acid-based products and switch to soothing balms to repair the skin barrier. Simplify your skincare regime and use light lotion-based moisturisers to avoid clogging pores with thick greasy products.
  • Avoid touching your face throughout the day and keep your face away from dirty towels and sheets, as the build-up of impurities and oils can clog sensitive pores and prolong breakouts.
  • Try drinking at least 750ml of water before the end of your day. This can help rehydrate the body and remove toxins that may otherwise contribute to inflammation and breakouts.
  • If you have sensitive skin, test new products on a protected part of your skin (such as your inner upper arm) first. Speak to your doctor if you have persistent symptoms as delaying treatment particularly for acne or rosacea can lead to persistent redness and unwanted scarring.

Dr Andrea Tomizawa is a Sydney-based consultant dermatologist.

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