We all know the drill. Once the winter chill sneaks in, it’s easy to lack moisture and mobility in our lives. Our skin gets drier and our muscles get tighter. This means our legs need extra attention and care during the winter months.
You may have noticed your skin gets dry when the cold weather begins. But winter brings more than dry skin. If you’ve also noticed leg cramps and soreness, you’re not alone. These symptoms are common in many people and can be exacerbated by the cold.
But there’s good news. You can combat both dry skin and leg cramps this winter season. Read over these helpful tips your legs will love.
How to Combat Dry Skin:
Reduce Shower Time
What’s not to love about a long, hot shower when it’s freezing out? But did you know those hot showers could be drying out your skin even more?
Reduce the amount of time you spend in a hot shower or bath by half. Try to keep your shower time to 10-15 minutes or less.
Use Gentle Cleansers
You may have heard the term pH balance in the skincare world before. But if you haven’t, let’s go back to the basics. pH stands for potential hydrogen, which is a measure of the element’s activity in a substance.
The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. A pH level of seven is neutral and anything lower is acidic. Anything higher than 7.0 is considered in the alkaline range. Skin tends to be naturally acidic and depending on the area of skin tested, it usually averages between 4.7 and 5.0.
An ideal skin pH is between 4.7 and 6.0, which is slightly acidic. Many soaps or body washes score over eight on the pH scale. The use of certain products disrupts the skin’s ability to maintain a healthy pH level. This could be a major reason why the skin on your legs is dry, flaky, itchy, and inflamed.
Staying hydrated is key for your skin to retain moisture. Try to drink more water. It’s easy to drink plenty of water in warmer weather. Nothing is more refreshing on a hot day than a tall glass of ice water
But when it’s cold, we tend to reach for hot lattes, which dehydrate our body. Even more so if you’re not drinking enough water to counteract the caffeine.
One of the most important tips for having smooth, healthy skin is exfoliation. Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of our skin.
Did you know our skin naturally sheds dead skin every 30 days? But sometimes, dead skin cells don’t shed completely. This leaves the skin looking dry and flaky.
The key to exfoliating in the winter is knowing how often to do it. Meaning, don’t exfoliate more than once a week as it can be too harsh for your skin.
To exfoliate the legs, try “dry brushing”. This is exactly what it sounds like: brushing your skin with a dry brush. Brushing the skin while it’s dry will loosen dead skin so it will wash off easily in the shower.
Eat Fatty Acids
Eat more foods containing essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) such as lean meat, eggs, walnuts, and salmon. The body cannot make these fatty acids on its own. But they are essential for proper skin hydration and health.
Nicotine is a known blood vessel constrictor that can reduce oxygen levels in the body. Insufficient oxygen may lead to pale, itchy dry skin that worsens in winter.
Smoking also increases the risk of varicose veins, leg soreness, and leg ulcers. If you smoke, ask your doctor about medications or programs available to help you stop.
Hydration is key for many aspects of our bodies. Our skin needs to retain moisture to function properly. Basic moisturizers will do the trick on the surface of the skin. But oils work to lock-in moisture deeper into the skin.
Skin oils, like baby oil, also act as a protective barrier between dry air and our skin. Try rubbing a few drops of baby oil on your legs after a shower.
Winter Leg Cramps
Now that we have our leg skin ready to combat the cold, let’s move on to our muscles.
Why Do Muscles Cramp More in Winter?
Muscles contract when they get cold as a way of preserving energy. This means you must exert more force to move your muscles in the cold.
Not using our contracted muscles increases stiffness, spasms, and cramps. Add slight dehydration during the winter, and you’ve got achy, tired legs.
For Muscle Pain Relief
Epsom Salt Soaks
Soak your legs in Epsom salt to soothe your muscles. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate compound used as a healing agent and pain reliever. Magnesium works well for relaxing constricted muscles and heal minor inflammation.
If you don’t feel like getting in the tub, just give your feet some love. Make a foot soak by filling your bathtub or a basin with water that covers your feet. Then add a 1/2 cup of Epsom salt and soak your feet for about 30 minutes. You’ll provide your feet with some relief and your legs will thank you.
Place a heating pad or a moist cloth warmed in a microwave on achy areas of your legs. Note that moist heat is always better, as the hot moisture gets absorbed into the muscles.
Hydration is one of the most important things needed for our muscles. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends drinking 10-16 cups of water a day.
If you have a bad habit of forgetting to drink water, don’t worry. Look for water bottles that light up or flash when it’s time to drink.
There are even water bottles that you can sync up with your phone and track your water intake. Add electrolytes to your water for an increased boost of hydration.
Exercises to Combat Leg Cramps
Basic Leg Scissors
Leg scissors are simple exercises you can do at home on the floor. This exercise increases circulation in your legs. It also helps maintain muscle tone in your thighs and lower abdomen. Although it doesn’t burn a lot of calories, it is a great way to reduce nighttime leg cramps. Try doing these daily for at least 15 minutes.
Lie on a mat and relax your back enough to feel the length of your spine against it. With your arms resting on the mat, lift both legs about a foot off the floor.
Raise your right leg slightly higher than the left leg. Then, lower your left leg down to the mat as you raise your right leg three or four inches higher. Repeat lifting and lowering legs if you feel comfortable doing so.
After several weeks of performing leg scissors, try wearing ankle weights for resistance.
Squat rotations are another great exercise for the legs. They improve flexibility, keep bones strong, and help prevent injury. Squat rotations are one of the best functional exercises to tone and strengthen the body.
Because of its low impact, this exercise is perfect for people of any age and body type.
You’ll need a light medicine ball or any small, weighted object for this exercise. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and hold the ball in your hands. Keep your chest up, back flat, and your body weight on your heels.
Twist your torso while bringing the ball down to the outside of your left foot. Stand straight with the force of your heels. Repeat on the right side. Keep your eyes locked on the ball during the entire exercise. Do 10 reps on each side.
Stationary Single Leg Holds
The stationary single leg hold exercise works on every lower body muscle. This includes your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. It’s a low impact exercise and doesn’t put too much pressure on knees or joints. Use a wall for support if you need to.
While keeping your knees close, pull your left leg behind your body with your left hand. Once you feel balanced, lift your right arm overhead. Try to keep as straight you can while holding this position and avoid turning your body to the side. Release and switch legs after 10 counts. Repeat three times on both sides.
Want to give your legs extra care this winter? Contact us at NJVVC today to learn more about our professional skin care and vein treatment options.
When it comes to acne, getting a pimple is just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to reduce or eliminate breakouts fast. Face washes, acne creams, and even medication can help. But for many, it’s the acne aftermath of scars causes concern. And it’s the reason why so many people are turning to chemical peels for acne scars.
Why Acne Scarring Occurs
When acne cysts are painfully inflamed and penetrate deeper skin layers, the risk for scarring increases. Scarring is a result of the healing response initiated by the immune system.
As acne nodules diminish, the immune system tells the body to produce more collagen. Collagen is a protein used to support skin firmness and overall health.
Too much or too little collagen determines the severity of acne scarring. For example, depressed or “caved-in” scars occur when there is not enough collagen to repair skin damage. Scars that appear raised above the surface of the skin indicate the release of too much collagen.
Raised acne scars are seen more frequently in people of color. Depressed acne scars predominantly affect lighter-skinned individuals.
Reducing the Appearance of ScarsOne of the most effective treatments to reduce the appearance of acne scars is a chemical peel. Chemical peels smooth away scar ridges and indentations. They safely and gently exfoliate the topmost layers of your skin.
What is a Chemical Peel?
Chemical peels use various concentrations of alpha-hydroxy, trichloroacetic, and/or glycolic acid. A licensed medical professional will apply the concentrate to areas with scarring. This helps eliminate damaged skin cells and speeds up regeneration. As the peel stimulates collagen production by causing a mild wound event, old skin cells are replaced by new, healthy skin cells.
Chemical peels take about an hour to complete. After a peel, you should expect some redness like a sunburn. Mild chemical peels may be performed every two or three weeks. Minimize itching by keeping your skin hydrated or using a cold compress.
Severe acne scarring may require a “deep” chemical peel. This type of peel may use phenol to penetrate deeper into the skin. Communicate openly with your doctor to achieve the best results.
In addition to reducing acne scars, chemical peels smooth away fine lines, mild skin discolorations, and treat actinic keratosis.
A Great Time to Get Rid of Acne Scars
There are a lot of misconceptions about chemical peels. For some, that means it gets put on the back burner of things to do. But the number one myth about chemical peels is that you will have to hide in your home for days after due to redness and flaking. That’s not true! A chemical skin peel can be stress-free with very little downtime if any at all.
Chemical peels now consist of gentler but more effective solutions. Patients can even opt for a lunchtime peel that takes about 20 minutes. There is minimal redness, and you can resume normal activities directly following the procedure.
However, keep in mind that chemical peels formulated to reach deeper skin layers may cause more apparent redness and flaking.
Acne scars can easily be reduced or eliminated with safe and effective chemical peels. Call us today to schedule a free consultation appointment.
FALL CHEMICAL PEEL BONUS
Fall welcomes cooler temperatures and brisk breezes that bring a healthy, attractive glow to your cheeks. It’s also the time to wear cute, soft sweaters, leggings, and free-form hairstyles. While you sip your pumpkin spice, consider the following:
Chemicals peels rejuvenate your skin leaving your skin fresh and glowing. No more spending hours in the morning applying concealers, foundation, and powder. Just shower, get dressed, and be ready to greet the day.
The days are getting shorter and there is less sun. UV rays aren’t nearly as strong as they are during summer. You’ll still need to use sunscreen after your procedure, but you can go outside with less caution during fall versus summer.
The holiday season is upon us. Every year it sneaks right up. A chemical peel is a great way to get ready for the busy times during the season when makeup isn’t an option. For the gatherings you attend and everything between, a chemical peel can help revitalize your skin.
Get the look you want with a chemical peel this fall season at the NJVVC!
Prevent and treat dark spots on your skin with proper skincare and some helpful tips. Don’t be embarrassed by hyperpigmentation. Figure out the cause and treat the issue.
The reality is that hyperpigmentation occurs in more people than you may realize. Hyperpigmentation is a common problem that affects all skin types.
While this skin condition is often harmless, it could also be a sign of illness that requires medical treatment. It’s best to consult a doctor before taking action to remedy the issue.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a condition in which dark patches appear on the skin. This darkening of the skin occurs when melanocytes become hyper-stimulated.
In turn, from this excess stimulation, melanocytes create an increased production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin it’s color. So, when our bodies begin to produce more of it, it causes us to tan or in this case, develop dark spots.
People with a fairer complexion have less melanin and tend to develop hyperpigmentation more easily than others. However, individuals with darker complexions may have more difficulty getting rid of hyperpigmentation.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
There are a variety of causes for hyperpigmentation. The causes range from simple day-to-day activities to possible warning signs of illness. Here’s what you should know:
Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of excessive exposure to the sun. With sun damage, darker spots appear in areas that are always subjected to the sun i.e., face, arms, and legs.
Melasma is characterized by brown patches that commonly appear on women during pregnancy. Heredity, sun exposure, and hormones play key roles in its development.
Inflammation can lead to discoloration of the skin. Dark spots can be triggered in areas that have become inflamed due to acne (acne scars), insect bites, or minor injuries.
Dark patches on the skin can also be a sign of serious illnesses such as lupus or cancer. Consult a doctor to rule these medical issues out.
The primary cause of hyperpigmentation is the sun. Avoid exposing yourself to its damaging rays for prolonged periods of time.
Sunburn leads to inflammation which is a big proponent of dark spots. Doctors recommend using a daily sunscreen with at least SPF 30 protection.
Since dark spots can also be caused by an injury, acne, or even a bug bite, avoid touching affected areas to prevent further inflammation.
Stay moisturized with ingredients that benefit the skin. Choose a product that will restore your skin’s barrier and boost cell turnover rate.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation
If you have hyperpigmentation, the following will help reduce its appearance and minimize further damage:
- Vitamin C boosts collagen and helps reverse cell damage.
- Vitamin E protects skin from further damage and offers anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Hyaluronic acid offers additional moisture and speeds up wound healing.
- Retinol to boost cell turnover rate.
Consult a medical professional for further information about topical prescription treatments. These treatments may include products that offer hydroquinone, azelaic acid, or corticosteroids; agents that provide a bleaching effect.
For more serious skin issues, laser treatment, ablative or nonablative, can be effective.
Ablative lasers remove the top layer of skin, effectively erasing the skin issue.
Nonablative lasers, on the other hand, pass through the skin without removing any. Both laser types are used to correct hyperpigmentation, skin texture, and tone.
New Jersey Vein and Vascular Center addresses a full range of issues that affect your skin. We specialize in creating a treatment plan that will meet your expectations and achieve your desired results.
Contact us for more information about changing the look of your skin for a more confident and healthier you.