Using Light Therapy To Treat Wintertime Blues

While there are many reasons to love the fall and winter, primarily holidays and presents, the seasonal shift can lead to emotional problems. The lack of sunlight in the winter months is tied to seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder.

The symptoms of SAD tend to follow the changes of the seasons. Most people who experience the conditions begin experiencing mood swings and fatigue that start in the fall, continue through the winter, and end in early spring.

The treatments for SAD range from psychotherapy to medications to light therapy or phototherapy. Phototherapy is the first line of defense against SAD, and it involves special light boxes that mimic the sun.

The problem is not all sun lamps are effective for phototherapy, so you should speak to your doctor before purchasing one. However, if you would like to narrow down your search before talking to your doctor, there are several things you should consider.

1. Specifications

Sun lamps should be comfortable to sit in front of for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. Therefore, you might want to opt for a glare-free light or one that can be placed on a downward angle to reduce or eliminate eye strain. 

Additionally, you will want a lamp that generates a minimum of 10,000 lux, approximately 20 times greater than most indoor lights and lamps. It would be best if you also looked for a sun lamp that produces a cool-white fluorescent light.

2. Safety

While a sun lamp can help combat SAD, you want a light that filters out UV light. Do not go by website descriptions alone. Make sure the box specifies the lamp is UV-free. UV light can damage the skin and the eyes.

Lamps used to treat skin conditions are not the same as those meant to treat SAD. Lamps for mood disorders are much brighter, so make sure the light is intended for seasonal affective disorder.

3. Size

On average, you want to find a sun lamp with a light surface between 12 and 15 inches. Typically, the larger the surface, the higher the output. Larger lamps can also provide users with more versatility, allowing them to move further away from the light while maintaining the benefits.

Smaller lights are still effective, but you often need to use them more often. Small lamps are also easier to travel with, making them ideal for people who travel and experience jet lag.

4. Preference

When selecting a lamp for light therapy, you will want to consider your personal needs. For instance, will you be using the lamp while working or after getting off a long flight? Knowing how you will use the light will help you identify specific models.

5. Recommendation

One of the best sun lamps on the market is the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus light therapy lamp. The surface area is large, 15.5 by 13.5 inches, and it is a 10,000 lux light. Additionally, the stand is adjustable, and the light can be placed in a downward position to prevent glare. At just over $100, the lamp sits in the middle of the pack.

SAD is a legitimate condition that occurs because of seasonal changes. A sun lamp can help prevent some of the many symptoms of the winter blues, including boosting your energy. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and ask if a sun lamp would be a worthwhile purchase.

Do you experience the winter blues? If so, how do you cope? 

Keeping Your Skin Hydrated in the Winter

The frigid winter air causes many problems for the skin, drying it out, resulting in flakiness and itching. Unfortunately, women often suffer more than men in winter, especially as they get older. 

According to dermatologists, as women age, their skin is less capable of maintaining moisture. The natural loss of moisture only compounds the winter dryness problem.

Dehydration leads to the compromise of the skin's protective layer. The compromise of this layer can result in further skin damage, including cracking and wrinkling. 

How do you protect your skin? What can you do to ensure you maintain adequate hydration even in the coldest and driest months of the year?

Look for Serums With Hyaluronic Acid

Skin serums help repair the damaged protective layer of the skin, and serums containing hyaluronic acid provide extra hydration protection. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in hydration, making it one of the best ingredients for super-thirsty skin.

When looking at the ingredients list for facial serums, look for the amount of hyaluronic acid. Some serums contain the ingredient but only in small amounts. You want to find the solutions that use it as a primary ingredient. Some manufacturers have as much as 75% hyaluronic acid in their serums.

Purchase Body Creams

While worrying about the face is one thing, you should also focus on the rest of your body. Many people experience winter flakiness on their chest, back, arms, and legs.

If you want to combat complete body dryness, look for moisturizing lotions and creams containing lactic acid and glycolic acid. The two alpha-hydroxy acids encourage skin cell turnover and hydration for a healthier, hydrated appearance. 

When looking for creams and serums, you should avoid products containing perfumes and other potential irritants or dehydrating ingredients if you have sensitive skin. Some of the elements to avoid include: 

  • Parfum, or perfume
  • Charcoal
  • Kaolin
  • Tea tree oil
  • Salicylic acid

Drink More Water, Maybe

Many people assume or advocate for drinking more water to relieve dry skin. The jury is still out on whether internal hydration will make a difference in wintertime dryness. According to dermatologists, an individual must be clinically dehydrated to experience any changes to their skin.

While drinking more water might not help your skin, many people do not realize they are already not drinking enough. Experts recommend consuming half your body weight in ounces to remain adequately hydrated.

Try Other Remedies for Dry Skin

Serums, lotions, and water are not the only things you can try to rehydrate your irritated winter skin. Many people find that using a humidifier can make a world of difference. Additionally, wearing the proper clothing when going outside can help. For instance, wearing gloves, a scarf, and a winter coat can protect your skin from the damaging wind and cold.

You can also alter your diet to include more antioxidant-rich foods and omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, eating blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, peas, lentils, and beans can contribute to skin health by removing toxins from the body and promoting healthy cell production. Salmon can also contribute to glowing skin.

You have many options. Some of the other things you might want to try include:

  • Oatmeal baths
  • Coconut oil
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Lukewarm showers

Dry skin in the winter is a struggle. However, by adopting the proper skincare routine and staying hydrating, you can protect the health and beauty of your skin.

How do you keep your skin moisturized in the winter? Comment below.