If you are living with eczema, you may already have a routine for managing flare-ups. If you don’t, you should seriously consider a flare-up treatment routine, as it will help minimize the severity of the flare-up and may help in easing the anxiety you may have about the condition. Eczema can flare up for many reasons, one of the most common reasons being the dry winter air. Below we will discuss some of the ways in which you can manage your winter eczema flare-ups. One of the best things you could do in treating your eczema is by scheduling an appointment with the dermatologists at Colorado Skin Surgery & Dermatology. We have been treating people with varying skin conditions for many years and want to help you too. Give us a call today.
What is Eczema?
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, eczema is a skin condition that causes a dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. It can be so itchy that someone with the condition may have trouble sleeping. If you have eczema, you may experience severe itching, especially at night; dry, scaly patches that are red or brownish-grey small, raised bumps that could leak fluid and scab over if scratched; thick, cracked skin; and raw or sensitive skin.
Eczema first appears in children, but many children outgrow eczema by their teenage years. About 50 percent of children with eczema, however, will continue to have eczema into adulthood.
Avoid Rapid Temperature Changes
When the skin is experiencing big changes in temperature, it starts to feel dry and itchy. This is usually only exacerbated during the winter when our skin jumps back and forth between temperature extremes. This cycle can make the skin irritated and have negative effects on pre-existing skin conditions.
You can reduce the effect it has on your eczema by avoiding abrupt changes in temperature. It is also crucial to wear gloves, a scarf, and a hat when outside so you can stop the skin from getting as cold. It is especially important to protect the sensitive part of your skin from the cold by layering every time you go outside. When you get back inside, it is very important that you avoid running your hands under hot water to warm your hands, as the change in temperature can irritate your skin. Instead, wait until you have warmed up a bit first before using warm water.
Moisturizing is an important part of skincare, whether you have eczema or not. Always carry a moisturizer and apply it liberally several times a day to protect the skin from the cold, dry winter air. Oil-based moisturizers and emollients are going to be the most beneficial. We recommend moisturizing once you get out of the shower or bath as well to protect the skin’s outer layer and to maintain hydration.
Use Gentle Cleansers
A fragrance-free, ointment-based cleanser is going to be one of the best options for managing your eczema flare-up. Your skin is already very sensitive, so you need to be very careful with what you put on it. Avoid washes that have fragrance, dye, or alcohol, and skip on bubble baths altogether. We would also like to recommend that you avoid harsh soaps in your laundry detergents as well. Instead, look for detergents that are formulated for sensitive skin.
Gravitate Toward Natural Fabrics
Cold weather usually always means piling on the layers, unless you live somewhere tropical. Clothes made of synthetic fabrics, however, can trigger eczema for people with sensitive skin. Check the labels of your favorite knits and look for 100% pure cold-weather fabrics like cotton, silk, and cashmere. Wool and polyester may keep you warm but may cause the skin to be irritated and red. Brands that provide hypoallergenic and antimicrobial loungewear will be your best bet. Think about your bedsheets, too!
Look for Moisture-Retaining Ingredients in Your Skincare
When shopping for facial moisturizers, look for hyaluronic acid, squalene, dimethicone, and ceramides, as these hydrating ingredients hold moisture in the skin. We recommend that people with severely dry skin and eczema-prone skin “double hydrate” by applying a cream-based moisturizer first and then “seal” in the cream with an ointment-based product to prevent or minimize the skin’s water loss. Keep in mind that more frequent applications will be needed for eczema patches.
Minimize Long Showers
Everybody loves a long, relaxing, hot shower. Showering for too long, especially during the colder months, will strip the natural oils from your skin, causing it to dry out even more. We recommend that individuals with eczema shower for less than five minutes using lukewarm water. Tap water with a high mineral content can dry out the skin and make eczema even worse.
Know When to Seek Professional Treatment
If you can’t seem to break the “itch and scratch” cycle, then you may need to consider seeing a dermatologist at our Denver office. We have worked with hundreds of people with eczema and other skin conditions and know that every experience is singular. The staff at Colorado Dermatology & Skin Surgery work closely and compassionately with individuals to find the best plan of treatment that will yield the best results. If you are struggling with a winter eczema flare-up, please give our dermatologists a call!