Keeping Winter Eczema in Check
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Keeping Winter Eczema in Check

Cold, dry winter air can really do a number on our skin.

This is especially true for those with eczema.

Often referred to as dermatitis, eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that weakens your skin’s barrier function. As a result, your skin may not be able to produce a normal amount of oil or retain moisture, both of which work to protect your body from outside elements.

Add that to repeated exposure to the cold outdoor air and bursts of dry indoor heat, and it’s no wonder that winter is prime time for eczema flare-ups.

The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent flare-ups and minimize them if they occur.

Here’s where to start:
 

  1. Use a humidifier. Because a humidifier adds moisture back into the air, it’s one of the best ways to combat eczema flare-ups. Be sure to maintain your machine and follow the instructions related to the type of water to use, how often to clean the machine, and replace the filter if it has one.  
  2. Take shorter showers and skip the tub. Because heat can cause your skin to dry out, you should avoid taking long, hot showers—no more than five minutes—or baths—no more than 10 minutes. Use lukewarm water and moisturizing soaps or body washes free of fragrance and dyes. When drying off, pat yourself dry rather than rubbing your skin.
  3. Moisturize twice a day (at least). Use moisturizers that hold moisture in the skin. Products with hyaluronic acid, squalene, and/or dimethicone are all good choices. Apply at least twice a day and always immediately after bathing or showering. If you’re experiencing a painful flare-up, speak to your doctor about using a hydrocortisone cream.
  4. Moisturize from the inside out. Drinking fluids can help keep your skin hydrated. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of fluids a day. Water, coffee, tea, coffee, and winter-warming hot chocolate are all great options. Slice up lemons or other citrus fruits and add them to the water for a mild flavor.
  5. Take vitamin D supplements. According to a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, taking vitamin D supplements in the winter may improve eczema flare-ups. Our bodies produce Vitamin D, which helps skin repair itself, naturally when exposed to sunlight. But because sunlight can be hard to come by in the winter, supplements can help fill the gap and minimize flare-ups.

For additional tips on tackling winter flare-ups from other people living with eczema, browse the National Eczema Association’s “member’s tips” for avoiding flare-ups during winter or contact your doctor for help.

Lixia Ellis, MD, PhD is a board-certified dermatologist at SVMC Dermatology.

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