Managing Eczema in Winter
People suffering from eczema often feel embarrassed due to the effects of the disease. They often maintain a certain lifestyle, especially during winter, to avoid making symptoms of eczema worsen. Factors which can make eczema difficult include seasonal changes and two categories known as irritants, substances that have a direct effect on the skin and allergens, substances from foods, plants, or animals.
What is Eczema?
Eczema, refers to a chronic disease characterized by itchy and inflamed skin. Scratching affected areas leads to redness, swelling, cracking, and scaling. Eczema is not contagious. Causes of the disease are hereditary and due to environmental factors. Eczema affects approximately 9 to 30 percent of the United States’ population. Although there is no significant difference between gender and frequency of the condition, Blacks and multiple race groups are more likely to suffer from eczema. An estimated 15% of people with eczema are Black. Research shows that although the disease occurs at any age, it often begins in infancy and childhood. Eczema is associated with physical symptoms and psychological impacts which harbor self esteem among people who suffer from the condition.
How do I Manage Eczema During the Winter?
During winter, people suffering from eczema are more likely to develop eczema rashes due to dry air and harsh temperatures. In addition to central heating, winter months can usher in cold air and low humidity. This results in an increase in rough, flaky, and itchy skin.
Here are a few ways to manage winter’s effects on eczema symptoms:
Dermatologists recommend moisturizing daily. Be sure to use soaps and moisturizers without any fragrances, or moisturizers without ingredients such as alcohol that may cause drying to persist. Creams and ointments are more effective than lotions. Using petroleum jelly after a bath is also a good option for winter. Moisturize at least two to three times a day and every time you wash your hands.
Be sure to wear protective winter gear. It is also important to be prepared for not only the cold but also the sun. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Topical creams or ointments are recommended for use twice a day. Your dermatologist may recommend a stronger topical cortisone (steroid) cream or ointment in case your over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream isn’t working effectively.
Opt for loose-fitting clothing made out of soft, open-weave fabrics such as cotton. Coarsely woven materials such as wool could irritate the skin. Be sure to wash all new clothing before wearing in order to remove any chemicals that may irritate the skin.
Always use mild laundry detergents for sensitive skin, sans fragrances or dyes. Further, avoid softeners and use chemical free dryer sheets.
Impact of Stress
The stress associated with a new year or other stress-inducing events can cause eczema to worsen in adults and children. Find ways to minimize these effects. Consider doing yoga or practicing meditation to help soothe and relax.
Be sure to see your dermatologist for further information or advice on managing seasonal effects on eczema.