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The woes of winter give way to challenges of spring

BEFORE the city exchanges winter's icy winds for spring's gentle breezes, there is time to prepare for the season's skin care fashions most vital to sensitive skins.

"It's like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Dry and ashy, skin emerges from the long, cold winter into a warm spring, but it is delicate and in need of protection," says Professor Zheng Jie, director of Ruijin Hospital's Dermatology Department.

"Those with sensitive skin, which has a tendency to react to various physical or chemical factors perhaps with redness and itchiness, should pay more attention to skin care during the change of season to combat the skin problems."

The causes of sensitive skin are many. According to the findings of Avene Dermatological Laboratories, heredity, climate, cosmetics, food and medicine factors are all potential causes.

Family genes can be a risk factor for skin diseases such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. If your skin is thin, white, dry and easily inflamed, it is vulnerable to being allergic.

It is well known that ultraviolet radiation damages the skin. Because sensitive skin is less able than normal skin to act as a sun shield, it tends to be damaged by the sun more easily. Other climate factors include cold, biting winds and environmental pollution.

Cosmetic damage can occur with the misapplication of skin care products containing ingredients which irritate the skin. Too frequently changing skin care products can also affect the skin, a cause commonly not considered. This can make the skin's immune cells too sensitive, which leads the skin stinging or becoming allergic.

Although there is an external focus on skin care concerns, allergic reactions are not caused by skin care ingredients alone. Food factors such as diet and drinks, and hormonal status should not be overlooked.

As Professor Zheng points out, for people with sensitive skin, fortunately, there is an abundance of skin care and makeup products such as Avene and La Roche-Posay especially created. Products such as anti-inflammatory or anti-redness creams that indicate that they are for sensitive skins, or those that offer to soothe, are a good bet.

"Protecting one's skin against the winter-to-spring elements with the right products for his or her skin type will keep it feeling comfortably hydrated and healthy throughout the seasons," Professor Zheng says. "At the season's change, one should not change skin care products too often. A skin test is suggested before applying any new product. If you aren't sure what your skin type is, a visit to a dermatologist to discuss skin care options is essential."

Other tips for the daily care of sensitive skin are to adopt a disciplined lifestyle and diet, avoid damage caused by coffee, spicy food and overwork and actively participate in exercises to strengthen immunity.

Be it dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin, everyone needs something different to maintain a supple and healthy complexion throughout the seasons. And the rest of your body, including hands, knees, elbows and feet, also requires moisturizers to keep soft and supple.

Start now and you can awake ready from head to toe for spring.


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