Avoiding winter eczema

Next month is Eczema Awareness Month: Take care of your skin.

  • Jan. 31, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Next month is Eczema Awareness Month: Take care of your skin.

The cold dry months of winter tend to be the most difficult of the year for eczema sufferers. People who have exceptionally dry skin or moderate-to-severe eczema are often very sensitive to falling temperatures. The air becomes very dry since cold air holds less moisture and the heating in some houses can provoke skin dehydration and painful eczema flare-ups.

Dryness makes the skin more sensitive and occurs due to a reduced water-holding capacity of eczematous skin. Therefore, managing this symptom is a very important part of ongoing therapy. Moisturizers play a key role in relieving eczema’s dry, itchy skin, as the ambient moisture in the air goes down and it gets colder, the skin is continually losing moisture. For best results, moisturizer should be applied to damp skin within three minutes of getting out of a bath or shower. Drinking plenty of water will also help keep the skin well hydrated during the winter months. 

Since dry skin is more prone to itching or flare-ups, using a humidifier during the winter months can help avoid the dryness that usually results at this time of year.

For thousands of eczema sufferers, it is also not uncommon to experience the “winter blues” during this time of year. Emotional factors may trigger flare-ups, feeling down or stressed can make their eczema much worse. In fact, studies suggest that reducing stress and having a positive outlook are among the best strategies for managing eczema. This winter, taking control of your emotional triggers may even help minimize or prevent flare-ups and promote overall well-being. 

Here are some hot tips for cold weather;

• Avoid wearing wool and other rough fabrics that can irritate skin

• Dress warmly (preferably in layers) to go outside, and wear a scarf and gloves to protect the sensitive areas of the face and hands

• Don’t sit close to radiators or other heat sources

• Use a humidifier at home and at work to add moisture to dry air

• Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water

• Moisturize!

For more tips and information about living with Eczema, visit eczemacanada.ca