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Breakthrough Study: Skin’s Cellular Structure Changes with the Seasons

by kelly / March, 14 2018 01:30

Photos of tree and flower filled fields in the fall, winter, spring, and summer

Why does our skin feel drier in the winter? Sure, factors like cold air, heaters and hot showers are at play but does our skin actually change with the climate? The answer according to science is yes.

Skin Proteins and Texture Change Seasonally

It’s not just external factors; recent research found that the physical structure of the skin actually changes from season to season.

Researchers recently examined the skin of 80 participants comparing their skin in the winter to their skin in the summer and published their findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

According to one of the senior authors of the study, Dr. Jacob Thyssen, of the University of Copenhagen, the research found:

”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."

So what happens from a scientific standpoint? The researchers discovered that filaggrin, a protein that helps maintain the skin's barrier function, changed between seasons on both the cheeks and the hands. They also found that the texture of cells in the outermost part of the skin changed seasonally.

So there you have it – two scientific reasons why your skin changes with the seasons.

Seasonal Skin Care Changes to Maximize Results

Knowing this is a game changer. It can help us better manage and protect our skin through different seasons.

According to Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists:

"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. 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."

More importantly, as Dr. Thyssen encapsulates, this study means:

“The clinical message to individuals are that they should protect their skin with emollients in the winter and sunscreen in the summer.”

We would add that sunscreen is necessary in the winter too. UV rays from the sun are present year-round and are a leading cause of skin damage and premature skin aging. Here’s more on why winter sunscreen is so important.

More Research for Fantastic Skin

Thirsty for more skin care research – we’ve got you covered! Check out our skin care Studies blog series.

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