- Staying home is the best way to combat the spread of the coronavirus, but remaining indoors for extended periods of time could lead to skin damage.
- Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told Insider what people need to watch out for when it comes to skin care in the coming months.
- Zeichner warned that you should still be wearing products with SPF inside and that too much screen time can cause aging.
- On the other hand, Suozzi encouraged people to think of quarantine or self-isolation as a time to give your skin a "vacation" from the things that harm it in everyday life.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Many people are self-isolating or quarantining because of the coronavirus, meaning they're not going outside much at all.
And even if you're just practicing social distancing, it's likely you're spending a lot less time outdoors.
Although they're in the best interest of public health, all of these practices can lead to unintended skin damage if not cared for properly.
One of the biggest skin issues you might run into during this time is dryness
You've probably already been dealing with dry hands as a result of washing them more frequently, but that dryness could impact the skin on your face as well.
"Over-washing your hands can lead to disruption of the outer skin layer, with dryness and irritation," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told Insider.
"Make sure to use a moisturizer on your hands regularly after washing"
Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, noted that it's important to apply that moisturizer when your hands are still damp.
"The cream traps in that moisture rather than letting it fully evaporate," she told Insider. She said you can increase the effectiveness of a lotion or cream by sealing it in as well.
"If you have cotton gloves at home, you apply that moisturizer and put those cotton gloves over it. It's really going to help."
Suozzi noted that the skin on your face might also get dry while you're at home.
Because it's still cold outside in many places, you likely have the heat on at home, and that artificial, dry air can dry out your skin.
"One thing I'd recommend for that is treatments to help skin hydration," Suozzi said of combating facial dryness.
Both Suozzi and Zeichner recommended using products with hyaluronic acid in them, as it's known to promote moisture. You can find sheet masks and creams with the ingredient in them.
But Zeichner warned against using sheet masks more than once per week, as overuse can lead to irritation.
Keep in mind that it's important to use products with SPF in them even when you aren't leaving the house
You might think you can skip your SPF routine because you aren't going outside where the sun is right now, but it turns out, the sun's rays can impact you even when you're indoors.
"Being inside doesn't mean that you are off the hook for wearing sunscreen," Zeichner told Insider.
"In fact, UVA light can penetrate right through window glass, which means that you still are at risk for premature aging and even skin cancers."
Suozzi echoed Zeichner, saying UVB rays can also go through glass, which can cause aging of the skin.
You should be applying a mineral-based SPF product when you're at home to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.
Zeichner encouraged people to get sun exposure right now when they can as long as they're being safe about it.
"Lack of exposure to sunlight has been associated with issues like seasonal affective disorder," he said.
"Plus, our bodies do need UV light exposure, be it in minimal amounts, to naturally produce vitamin D levels. If you are going to stand by the window, just make sure you are properly sun protected."
You might also consider taking a vitamin D supplement to boost your levels at this time, but you should talk to your doctor before bringing any new product into your routine.
Using your devices more during this period might harm your skin
"We know that your devices emit blue light, also known as high energy visible (HEV) light," Zeichner told Insider.
"This type of light has been shown to have harmful effects on the skin, promoting premature aging and dark spots."
Likewise, the physical act of looking down at your phone could hurt you as well.
"Bending your head down means folding up the skin on your neck, leading to early wrinkling," he said. "This is commonly referred to as 'tech neck.'"
Make sure you're taking breaks from looking at screens, and think consciously about how often you're bending your neck.
Try your best not to touch your face
Touching your face with unwashed hands is one of the easiest ways to spread the coronavirus, but that's not the only reason you should try to keep your fingers away from your face.
"This stressful environment may promote acne breakouts, but do your best not to pick your face," Zeichner said, as picking can cause scarring or further inflammation.
There's no sure-fire way to kick your face touching habit, but Suozzi said that avoiding your contact lenses can help if you typically wear them.
"If you are a contact lens wearer, when you're at home during this period, you can switch to wearing your eyeglasses because you're kind of keeping your eyes protected and not touching your face as much during the day," she said.
But she also noted that it's still safe to wear contacts if you're more comfortable in them.
Try to think of the time at home as a vacation for your skin
Suozzi noted that many people have "over-processed" skin as a result of their daily routines.
Wearing and removing makeup, as well as applying an excessive amount of products to your face can lead to problems.
"Now that we're going to be indoors, we can kind of strip some of that back and simplify the regimen," she said.
"Give your skin what I call a product holiday, where you strip it down to a gentler, simpler routine."
Simply not wearing makeup can make a huge difference in your skin's health.
"It's also a good time to think about correction. When our lives are busy, we forget to stick to a regimen every day," she said, noting that most of her patients who suffer from acne see recurring issues because they don't stick to the routines she recommends.
"Spend the two weeks you're inside really applying these treatments as indicated and trying to maximize correction while you're inside and have the time to focus on it."
You can read more about how people are changing their skin-care routines because of the coronavirus here.
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