How to care when monsoons are here!

Monsoons are here and we could not be happier. Not only do the monsoons bring down the
soaring temperatures, they bring with themselves various little joys which tickle our souls. The
lush green trees, the smog and dust free atmosphere and the intoxicating fragrance of the soil
soothe our eyes and rejuvenate us mortals. However, it may not be that blissful for your hair and
skin especially if you have an acne prone or oily skin. Monsoons bring with themselves their
own share of hair fall, oiliness and skin infections which may ruin the monsoon fun.  Thus, its
important to change your skin care routine according to changing seasons. Here we chart a skin
care routine that you can inculcate in your everyday routine in order to keep yourself and your
family away from skin and hair problems this monsoon
1. Follow the CT-MES rule
I usually say ‘follow the CT-MES rule to keep your skin away from the City Mess!’ The
acronym CT-MES stands for :
C- Cleansing
T- Toning
M- Moisturizing
E- Exfoliation
S- Sunscreen
Okay! I know most of you must have already heard about the CTM routine and would say that
there is nothing new about this but what is new is how you modify it to fit the monsoons.
Cleansers,  are an essential part of our skin care routine and help to  remove the dirt, sweat and
oil from our face. One must cleanse the face two – three times a day but not more than that. Its a
common misconception that washing the face frequently  would help decrease  oiliness. Washing
the face frequently sends a trigger to your skin to produce more oil in order to compensate for the
oil lost to washing. As a result, you end up getting more oil. The best cleansers for an oily skin
would be the ones with salicylic acid and if you have pus filled acne too  then ones with benzoyl
peroxide are a good choice for you. For those with combination skin cleansing milk or non
foaming skin cleansers are an ideal way to deal with all that grime.

Toning – Using a toner is very important to remove the dirt, oil, sweat and make up sitting at the
bottom of your pores, and the tightening  of pores that you get is an added bonus. Imagine
removing oil with water and soap and compare it with removing oil with an alcohol based
solution. That’s the difference between cleansing alone and following cleansing with toning. Its
always a great idea to put some toner on a cotton swab and  keep it on your nose for 5 minutes
before you switch on to next step as it helps to prevent pores on the nose from becoming
patulous.

Moisturizing- It’s a common myth that oily skin does not need a moisturizer. Moisturizing an oily
skin is essential too because it sends signals to your skin to stop producing excess oil, thereby
maintaining an equilibrium. Oil free, non comedogenic moisturisers are easily available which
are perfect for oily skin. For dry skin water  based lotions are better option than creams because
they don’t have a sticky feel.
Exfoliation is a must to unclog your pores and prevent breakouts. Even if your skin isn’t oily
exfoliation in monsoons is a good idea for dry and combination skin as well. One can exfoliate at
home using scrubs once a week. However, much better and generous exfoliation can be done by
a trained dermatologist using microdermabrasion or chemical peels which should be done once
in 15-20 days.
Sunscreens are a nightmare for anyone with oily skin in monsoons. People dread the white shine,
leaking of make up and the sweating caused by sunscreens. Also, a common misconception is
that when its cloudy then u can keep your sunscreens at bay. However, sun is equally or
sometimes more harmful during monsoons because of lack of sunscreen. As a result, a lot of
pigmentation develops on face and blemishes may get worse. However, there are many oil free,
gel based sunscreens available and your dermatologist can guide you to a perfect sunscreen for
your  skin. If you still feel oily,  just  dab  your compact powder on top of your sunscreen and it
may just do the trick for you.
Make up- Apply as little make up as possible and remove it the first thing when you get home.
One can capitalize on eye make up and go subtle with make up on face so as to minimize the use
of products on face. Also, one should switch to powder based base, eye shadows, bronzers, etc
than liquid based products in order to avoid clogging of pores and acne.
2. Hair care in monsoons
Not uncommonly do I get distress calls from my patients and friends about increasing hairfall in
monsoons. The high humidity in the atmosphere makes the hair go frizzy, brittle and entangled
which leads to increased hairfall. Also, it gets difficult to dry hair after hair wash and one tends
to leave for work with wet hair which further worsens the frizz. The humidity in the air also acts
as food for the normal fungus on your scalp leading to worsening of dandruff and consequently
hair fall. In order to prevent such hair fall,  hair mask, conditioners, and taking care of the
dandruff is a must.
Wash your scalp 2- 3 times a week  to remove oil and dirt, especially after getting drenched. Use
a microfiber towel to dry your hair. Use a hair mask once a week for 10-15 minutes to decrease
the frizz.  At other occasions, you should use a conditioner after hair wash in order to form a
coating on your hair shaft keeping them less brittle. A leave in conditioner or a serum is a good
option to further control the unsettled frizz. Oiling can be a double edged sword, as if done
excessively and with a heavy hand, it can lead to more hair fall and worsen dandruff by feeding
more oil and moisture to the dandruff causing fungus. The best option would be to use a mixture
of one tsf of castor oil, coconut oil and almond oil each and use it once a week for no more than
an hour before hair wash.
3. Prevention of skin infections

Skin infections are prevalent more than ever during the monsoons. After all, the warm, moist
skin folds provide an ideal niche for all microbes. Thus it becomes imperative to take  utmost
care of your skin to prevent  any communicable bacterial or fungal infections from affecting you
and your family members.
a) Drench and drain– It means to drain (read wash) away all the rain water that you got from
drenching yourself in rain ,as soon as you can, and wear clean dry cotton clothes thereafter. This
would help to get rid of all the enviornmental pollutants that might have accompanied the rain
water and prevent unnecessary build up of moisture in skin folds and web spaces.
b) Clothing– DO NOT wear tight jeans or synthetic clothes this season. The tighter the clothes,
the more the sweat and eventually more skin infections. For women, cotton skirts, palazzos,
sharara pants, dhoti pants, salwars with light cotton shirts are recommended and look trendy. For
men linen/ cotton  trousers, cotton shirts or t-shirts and kurta pyjamas are ideal. It’s important to
wear freshly washed clothes everyday. Also, make it a point to hang the clothes inside out in the
sun so that the sunlight can kill most of the microbes. In case its cloudy you could iron the
clothes inside out so as to sanitize them.
c- NO Over The Counter (OTC)  medication– Its a common practice to apply anything and
everything on your skin infection. The moment the skin itches, one goes to the local chemist and
asks for the latest daad, khaaj, khujli ki specialist malham that one saw on TV last night,
unaware of the fact how poisonous (it is not an over exaggeration) such creams are for your skin.
Such creams contain highly potent steroids that relieve the itch but simultaneously help the
underlying skin infection  to perpetuate, which rebounds as a much more fierce infection on
stopping the medication. Continuous use of the same leads to thin red skin and unwanted hair.
The poor patient thereby gets entangled in a vicious cycle. The end result is that by the time the
patient reaches a dermatologist the infections have usually become much more bothersome to the
patient and resistant to treatment. Unfortunately, despite repeated and massive opposition of
such creams by dermatologists, the government has failed to put a ban on such OTC medicines
and they continue to haunt the human skin till date. Therefore, visiting a  qualified dermatologist
must be the first thing to do when u have any skin allergies or infections and not the last resort.
d- Check and treat all the affected family members-This is important in order to eradicate the
infection from the household as usually most of the infections are communicable.
I hope these tips help your skin stay healthier and glow all the more so that you can enjoy as
monsoons galore!
The author is a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon practicing at Shalby Hospital, Mohali.

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