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6 Ways to Control Your Eczema This Winter

By Christopher Kelly, PA-C

The crisp chill in the evening air is a reminder that we will soon be faced with a long cold winter. While there are many reasons to look forward to the onset of Winter (the Holiday season, sledding, making snowmen, and curling up in front of a glowing fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa, to name just a few), for those affected by eczema it can be a time of more frequent and more severe flare-ups of their condition.

Eczema, sometimes referred to as “the itch that rashes”, is one of the most common conditions evaluated within a dermatology office. While eczema can come in many varying forms and may affect virtually any location of the skin (most commonly seen in the creases of the elbows and behind the knees, but also seen affecting the skin anywhere from the eyelids to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet), there are a few typical symptoms that are almost always present. Eczema typically presents with an appearance of red patches or bumps that often have some degree of scaling or flaking on the surface. The most bothersome or distressing symptom for most patients with eczema is severe itching. As eczema persists, thickening of the skin can occur, as well as secondary infection due to the breaking down of the protective barrier that the skin provides.

Management of all but the mildest cases should include evaluation by a health care provider who specializes in dermatology to develop a treatment plan that includes strategies for prevention and maintenance as well as prescription medications to treat flare ups.

There are many steps you can take to decrease the frequency and severity of eczema flare ups throughout the winter months. While you cannot change the humidity level (or lack thereof) in the air, incorporating these strategies can greatly affect the health of your skin

1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!
  • Moisturize your skin every day within a few minutes of getting out of the shower/bath.  Additionally, remember to moisturize your hands every single time after washing them.
2. Utilize products that are gentle on your skin and fragrance free.
  • Belleza Skin Care Institute has a wide range of cleansers and moisturizers for all skin types and skin tones
  • The Avene product line is especially beneficial for patients of all ages with eczema
  • Other recommended products include: Dove sensitive skin soap or body wash and CeraVe or Cetaphil moisturizing cream
  • Don’t forget to use laundry detergents that are free of fragrance (such as All Free & Clear)
3. Keep showers/baths short and not too hot.
  • Showers and baths should be limited  to 10 minutes or less
  • Use lukewarm water temperatures
4. Do not pick or scratch!
  • Scratching can actually cause the itching sensation associated with eczema to worsen.
  • Picking and scratching repeatedly can cause the skin in that area to thicken.
  • Picking and scratching can open the skin and lead to secondary infections from bacteria, yeast, and viruses.
5. Consistent temperatures

Keep the humidity and temperature in your house steady, as frequent and sudden changes in these environmental factors can contribute to eczema flare ups.

6. Follow Directions

While you should pay attention to the warnings from your dermatology health care provider regarding overuse of topical steroids, it can be just as bad for your skin to under use these medications. Be sure to follow the directions for how long and how often to properly use any medications.

 

Don’t let the dryness ruin your winter (or your skin)! If you think you may have eczema and need help getting it under control make an appointment with our dermatology department.


Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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