Have you noticed your eczema symptoms worsening now that it’s starting to get chilly outside? Cold air is naturally drier than warm air, which is why it’s more common to wake up with a sore throat and dry nasal passages in the winter. This is also the reason your eczema flares up. Dry air makes it more difficult for your skin to stay moist.
Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid eczema flare-ups in the winter. Just follow these tips.
Avoid hot baths.
It may be comforting for a few minutes, but a hot bath saps your skin of moisture, making you feel itchy once you step out of the water. Opt for warm water instead of hot, and bathe less frequently than you do in the summer. It may also help to add moisturizing products to the water and limit your time in the bath to five or 10 minutes. Then, always pat your skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing it to prevent irritating your sensitive skin.
Apply a thick moisturizer.
While your skin is still slightly damp, apply a thick, high-quality moisturizing product. You might also treat irritated areas with petroleum jelly, hydrocortisone cream or topical medication. Ask your dermatologist for advice about what’s best for your situation.
Select clothing made of soft fabrics.
Dress in layers of breathable cotton that you can remove one at a time. This helps prevent you from overheating, which can flare up your eczema symptoms. Avoid wool, nylon and other materials you know irritate your skin (such as leather, if you’re allergic to chromate). Beware of rough seams and loose threads as well, since these may cause itching.
Rethink your bedding.
The hot-cold, hot-cold cycle is a major cause of eczema flare-ups in the winter. One way to combat this is to sleep with light, breathable bedding. Layers of blankets and sheets are also better than one thick duvet because you can peel them off one by one to maintain the ideal skin temperature at all times.
Run a humidifier.
Even in wet weather, cold air remains relatively dry. The moisture-sucking furnace doesn’t help, either. To increase the indoor relative humidity and ease your eczema symptoms, run a whole-house humidifier. If that’s not in the budget, portable tabletop units are also available. You can even leave out a bowl of warm water to increase the humidity in the room. Just remember to clean and refill the bowl daily to avoid mold and bacteria growth.
Enjoy your favorite wintertime drinks, such as herbal tea, apple cider and hot chocolate, to keep yourself hydrated and your skin moist. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages per day all year round.
Not everyone’s eczema flares up in the winter, but if your symptoms have heightened in this chilly weather, working closely with your dermatologist is the best way to make it through the season. For help optimizing your skincare routine, please contact Arlington Dermatology at (847) 725-0824.