You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

How Is Your Skin Affected By Seasonal Changes?

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 07/03/2018 Sadhana Bharanidharan
Winter © Winter Winter

When it comes to skincare, it seems like we have to be on constant guard throughout the year. While summer means covering ourselves with sunscreen, winter is all about measures to keep dry skin and rashes away.

But what does science have to say about the effects of seasonal changes on our skin? A new study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, explains the impact on a cellular level.

Researchers examined the skin of 80 adult participants throughout winter and summer. With the help of magnified observation, changes in the levels of breakdown products of filaggrin were observed on the cheeks and hands of participants. Filaggrin, i.e. filament aggregating protein, binds to keratin fibers in epithelial cells to help maintain the skin's barrier function. Researchers also observed changes in the texture of corneocytes, which are cells in the outermost part of the skin's epidermis.

"This study shows clearly that the skin barrier is affected by climatic and seasonal changes. Both children and adults suffer from red cheeks in the winter in northern latitudes and some may even develop more permanent skin conditions such as atopic eczema and rosacea," said senior author Jacob Thyssen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "By the use of high magnification, we show that the skin cells suffer from shrinkage and therefore change their surface."

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage in the skin cells, typically caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, triggers mutations. Living at higher altitudes and in areas of tropical or subtropical climates can raise the risk of skin damage from UV radiation. Thyssen emphasized the study hopes to send a clinical message to people to protect their skin with emollients in the winter and sunscreen in the summer.

"We already know that humidity can affect the texture of the skin and impact on skin disorders like eczema, and humidity fluctuates according to season. In the winter, rapidly changing temperatures, from heated indoors to cold outdoors environments, can affect the capillaries, and prolonged exposure to wet weather can strip the skin's barrier function," said Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists.

When affected by eczema, the protective barrier of the skin is weakened, leaving it vulnerable to the effects of the weather as well as man-made factors such as air conditioning, clothing material, tanning beds, etc. Symptoms of the condition may include red areas, small bumps and leathery patches on the skin.

"This latest study is interesting as it sheds new light on further reasons for seasonal skin changes, at a cellular level. Given that skin problems are the most common reason for people to visit their doctor, any research that improves our understanding of skin disorders and how best to manage them is always a positive step," she added.

More from Medical Daily

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon