6 Ways To Prevent Eczema Flareups In Winter
So while parts of the world are going into summer, many countries will be entering winter. Winter is the season that comes with dropping temperatures, which can leave our skin feeling much drier and itchier than it does in the summer. Unfortunately for those dealing with skin conditions such as eczema, the cold season can be extremely harsh – which is why it’s important to take the proper precautions.
Winter dryness can also increase the amount of eczema flare-ups that occur due to the skin’s inability to maintain its hydration.
What is eczema?
Eczema, sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that leaves one with dry skin as well as a scaly and severely itchy rash on top of the skin. It usually first occurs in children and, while many of them outgrow it by the time they hit puberty, half of them will carry it well into adulthood.
According to the National Eczema Association, almost 32 million people in the United States have some form of eczema (1). In South Africa, the number of adults that struggle with their skin condition is around 38%.
Types of eczema
There are three main types of eczema and these are atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and dyshidrotic eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema that first appears during one’s childhood. It is also a genetically predisposed condition. Unlike atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis rarely appears during one’s childhood. Instead, flare-ups occur when one is exposed to irritants or allergens. Lastly, dyshidrotic eczema occurs mostly on the hands and feet, causing itchy blisters that can often develop into painful skin cracks.
While some may confuse eczema with dry skin, there is a huge difference between the two. In addition to the severe itching, other symptoms of eczema include dry and cracked skin, red, inflamed skin, swollen skin, rough and leathery patches of skin as well as crusting. As of this time, there is no official cure for the skin condition.
So if you’re looking to keep warm and protect your skin against any winter flare-ups, read on for more tips on eczema relief.
1. Avoid irritants in your cosmetic products
Eczema-prone skin is sensitive skin thus it is important to treat it as such. In doing so, one would have to stay clear of ingredients that could otherwise irritate the skin.
These added cosmetic ingredients include fragrances, preservatives, and surfactants.
2. Cut back on long and hot showers
A hot, long shower may sound inviting after spending a few hours out in the cold, but it could also lead to flareups.
Frequent long hot showers can strip the skin of its natural oils and this can further dry out the skin. If you’re hoping to avoid flareups, the best option would be for you to use lukewarm water and spend no more than five minutes in the shower.
3. Invest in a humidifier
Dry air can dry out the skin thus it’s advisable to try to add moisture to the surrounding air.
One sure way to add more moisture into the air is by investing in a humidifier. This will help to keep your skin from drying out and becoming irritated.
4. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Moisturizing is incredibly vital when it comes to eczema skin care and in winter, its importance only increases.
It’s best to moisturize with a thick cream at least twice a day. Aside from using creams, one can also choose to moisturize with oil-based ointments as they will also help to nourish the skin by protecting it against moisture loss.
5. Try vitamin D supplements
As temperatures have dropped and the sun is not as intense, their vitamin D intake may be compromised. That said, taking vitamin D supplements may help manage the eczema flareups one is experiencing.
However, it is important to remember that one needs to use sunscreen all-year-round. A sunburn can exacerbate one’s already dry skin.
6. Wear natural fabrics
Cold weather means more layers, yet this action may aggravate the skin of people dealing with eczema.
While they do keep you warm, synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester can irritate the skin and cause a flareup. It’s best to go for pure fabrics such as cotton, silk, and cashmere. Also, when keeping warm, it’s important that you don’t put on too many layers. If you find yourself getting hot in all of your layers, it’s best to remove one as sweat can also irritate the skin.
While the above remedies can help you manage your eczema during the colder months, it’s important to seek medical treatment if you find yourself continuously itching and scratching – especially if it’s affecting your sleep.
A doctor or dermatologist may prescribe medication, steroid cream or even phytotherapy to help reduce any signs of inflammation.