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George K. Verghese, MD
Coping With Eczema In the Winter
Mid-Atlantic Skin Surgery Institute
. https://midatlanticskinsurgery.com/

Coping With Eczema In the Winter

For East Coast residents, the recent severe cold weather was a very real reminder that winter is in full force. For sufferers of eczema, no reminder was necessary – at the first sign of cold weather, sensitive skin flares up, resulting in dry, itchy, red, flaky, swollen patches.

The main factors that exacerbate eczema symptoms in the winter are the cold, dry air and the drastic temperature changes. Going from a warm home, car, or office to the frigid, windy outdoor atmosphere constantly shocks your skin and makes it even harder to keep it moisturized and itch-free.

This can make the winter months feel even longer as those experiencing eczema symptoms yearn for the return of spring and the relief from rashes. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep eczema in check so you can enjoy the winter without all the scratching.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Use a moisture-rich, fragrant-free soap to gently wash your skin, and take shorter showers using warm, not hot water. Apply a water-based moisturizer to your skin at least once a day, especially after a shower, to lock in moisture. If your symptoms are serious, you may need to use over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical steroids, as recommended by your dermatologist.

Avoid abrupt temperature and humidity changes. There’s not much you can do about the weather outside, but try to make your home environment more hospitable by maintaining a moderate temperature and using a humidifier. Especially if your home uses forced-air heat, it’s important to add moisture back into the dry air. Keep the humidity level between 45-55% and be sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent mold growth.

Shield your skin from the elements. Wear gloves, a scarf, and a hat to protect against icy winds, rain, or snow. If your clothing or accessories get wet from the wintry weather or from sweating, be sure to take them off immediately so that your eczema-affected skin isn’t in contact with damp clothing.

Dress smart. Choose soft, natural fabrics that won’t irritate your skin. Rough wool can often be problematic when in direct contact with skin. Also, pay attention to your detergent – look for products designed for sensitive skin and avoid any dyes, chemical additives (like softeners), or perfumes.

Know your triggers. In order to get a handle on overly active eczema, it’s important to monitor your flare ups and figure out what irritants worsen your symptoms – they could be anything from food allergies and stress to pet dander and dust. Be mindful of these triggers and manage them as well as you can.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema. With a little bit of TLC, most people can find relief from their symptoms and keep their condition in check. If all else fails, talk to your dermatologist to find out about professional treatment options that might work for you.

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