Your Guide to Winter Skin Protection

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Story Updated: Nov 21, 2012

In the movies, chilly weather leaves starlets looking rosy and flushed. But in reality, the biting wind, harsh temperatures and dry air can take a toll, leading to an irritated, pasty complexion.

Tired of itchy, chaffed skin? We asked the experts to share their advice on safeguarding your skin from the elements. Here's what they said.

Skin Protection Tip No. 1: Moisturize the right way.
"In the winter, you may need to swap your normal lotion for a thicker cream that's more hydrating," says Maggy Hazard, lead aesthetician for The Spa and Wellness Center at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont. She also recommends using a facial serum. "Apply a thin layer on your neck and face before your lotion or night cream," she says. "The serum has smaller particles, so it can better penetrate your pores."

For the best results, rub on lotion immediately after showering. "You want your skin to be slightly damp," says Dr. Ahmet Altiner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and owner of UWS Dermatology & Skin Care in New York City. "The lotion helps lock in the moisture."

Skin Protection Tip No. 2: Turn down the heat.
Steamy showers feel good, but they can leave your skin feeling parched. That's because hot water strips the skin of natural oils, says Altiner. Opt for lukewarm showers lasting no more than 10 minutes. Also use a mild soap, like those tailored to sensitive skin.

Skin Protection Tip No. 3: Consider a humidifier.
Your home's heating system zaps moisture from the air, resulting in Sahara-like conditions. Using a humidifier can help soothe irritated skin, reports a study in the Archives of Environmental Health.

Bonus: You'll also fend off colds and flu in the process. Researchers from Oregon State University showed that the flu virus thrives in dry environments. Adding humidity to the air lowers the odds that those germs will survive for longer periods of time, say the experts.

Skin Protection Tip No. 4: Don't forget the sunscreen.
Since you're covered from head to toe, chances are protecting your skin isn't the first health concern that comes to mind. In fact, 98 percent of Americans neglect to use sunscreen regularly during the winter, according to experts at Ohio State University. But the reality is that the sun is equally strong as in the summer. Plus, the snow can reflect 80 percent of those damaging UV rays, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

To protect yourself, slather on a product with SPF 30 on any exposed skin (for instance, your face, neck and hands) before heading outside.

Skin Protection Tip No. 5: Reach for the right tissues.
On average, adults come down with two to four colds each year, more often during the winter months than any other time of year. All of those sniffles and sneezes can do a number on your skin, resulting in a red, chapped nose. "That's why it's important to invest in soft tissues with lotion," says Hazard. "They're gentler." She also recommends dabbing your nose with a protective ointment, lotion or oil.

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Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a 242 bed facility located in Chenango County about thirty miles north of Binghamton NY. Situated on a sixty acre site, the Home has spectacular scenic views of rural countryland. We provide state of the art medical, nursing, psychosocial, and rehabilitative services to our residents. We also have several academic affiliations including the Upstate Medical Center College of Medicine/Clinical Campus at Binghamton.

About Us
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a long term care skilled nursing facility. We are located in Oxford NY, and we serve the Central New York Region. We provide care for veterans and their dependents. Our current building has 242 beds in seven different units, including our rehabilitation unit and our dementia unit. Our facility is clean and pleasant, and our staff is friendly and professional. We welcome you to a guided tour upon request!

Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Dr. Dzwonczyk Receives Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Philip J. Dzwonczyk, MD has been certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Dzwonczyk joins more than nineteen hundred fellow physicians to have achieved such certification.

Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical discipline of the broad therapeutic model known as hospice and palliative care. The discipline and model of care are devoted to achieving the best possible quality of life for the patient and family throughout the course of a life-threatening illness through the relief of suffering and the control of symptoms. Hospice and palliative medicine helps the patient and family face the prospect of death assured that comfort will be a priority, values and decisions will be respected, spiritual and psychosocial needs will be addressed, practical support will be available and opportunities will exist for growth and development. Hospice in the United States is an organized program that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients and supportive services to patients, their families, and significant others.

Dr. Dzwonczyk is the medical director of the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford. He recently completed the Harvard Medical School Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice and has worked for many years as an internist and geriatrician practicing in central New York. Dr. Dzwonczyk received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and his doctor of medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College. He trained in internal medicine and psychiatry at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds specialty certificates in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He has achieved Certified Medical Director status from the American Medical Directors Association and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Dzwonczyk has directed the medical care of patients at the New York State Veterans Home since 1993 and has been active as a medical educator. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Upstate Medical University and is active as a member of the faculty of the Geriatric Medicine Clerkship of the Clinical Campus in Binghamton. In addition to his interest in palliative care, Dr. Dzwonczyk has an interest in the evaluation and management of cognitive and mood disorders of the elderly.

The American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine was formed in 1995 to establish and measure the level of knowledge, attitudes and skills required for certification of physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine. Eligibility requirements for certification are significant. In order to be eligible to sit for the certifying examination, applicants must have received prior major specialty certification, practiced at least two years following residency, worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team for at least two years and have directly participated in the active care of at least fifty terminally ill patients in the preceding three years. Alternatively, applicants must have completed specialty fellowship training in palliative medicine. The fellowship training program must be at least one year in length and must meet the established voluntary standards for such a program.

ABHPM conducts its Certification Examination in Hospice and Palliative Medicine annually at multiple sites through the United States. Currently, 1908 physicians have been certified by virtue of meeting certification requirements, including successful completion of this examination. A listing of currently certified physicians may be viewed on the Boards website at www.ABHPM.org.

Information on the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine may be obtained from the website at www.ABHPM.org or by call (301) 439-8001.

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford