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10 Tips For Preventing Winter Eczema Flare-Ups
08/19/20228 min read
No time of year is exempt from eczema worries. But one season, in particular, stands out: winter. Why is winter eczema such a problem?
In this article, we’ll explain why this season causes flare-ups and share effective tips for avoiding or dealing with them.
Table Of Contents
- Winter Eczema – What’s The Cold Got To Do With It?
- 10 Tips For Preventing A Winter Flare-Up
- Winter Eczema – What About My Baby?
Winter Eczema — What’s The Cold Got To Do With It?
When we think winter, we usually think cold. That’s true for many parts of the world with temperate climates.
But no matter what climate you live in, with eczema, it may be how you react to the cold and not the temperature itself that is the problem.
For example, cold air is typically much drier than warm air. Warm air molecules are much farther apart than colder, denser air, so they can contain more water vapor.
As the seasons change, a drop in humidity means your skin can dry out more quickly. Dry skin is known to aggravate eczema, as your skin may be unable to stay hydrated. In addition, when the weather turns cooler, we often turn on the heat inside our homes.
Heating cold air dries it further, and if that hot, dry air is blown around in a home heating system, it can rapidly dry out your skin and cause an eczema flare-up.
When we get chilled during the colder months, we also turn to hot baths or showers. But these can actually do more harm than good to your skin. Hot water can be drying and cause even more itching.
Also, the irritation from the hats, scarves, and mittens that keep you warm can cause winter eczema to react and flare.
Add less sun exposure to the list, and there’s even more evidence that winter wreaks havoc on your delicate skin barrier. What do we mean by this?
Less exposure to sunlight can mean a dip in the vitamin D3 your body makes. This vitamin can lessen eczema symptoms, and low vitamin D3 levels have been associated with more severe eczema outbreaks.
With all of these factors to consider, it’s pretty clear to see why colder weather can be such a challenge for those who suffer from winter eczema.
So what can you do about it? Here are 10 tips to help combat the winter weather.
10 Tips For Preventing A Winter Flare-Up
Moisturize Your Skin And Hydrate Yourself
As we mentioned above, dry skin is a direct path to an eczema flare-up. As we’ve seen, cold weather conditions exacerbate dryness. To help prevent winter eczema symptoms, use a moisturizing cream, like Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream.
The colloidal oatmeal in this cream locks moisture into your skin and relieves itching and irritation. Some winter eczema sufferers get even better results moisturizing more than once a day in the harsh winter months.
Also, remember that your skin isn’t just moisturized from the outside. You need plenty of water to stay hydrated — no matter the season — especially when breathing in hot, dry air.
Run A Humidifier In Your Home
Running a humidifier in the winter is one way to combat hot, dry air.
Most heating systems take dense, cold air that can’t hold much moisture and simply heat it further before blowing it around your home. That hotter air is now less dense and is capable of holding more water.
That’s where a humidifier comes in. It can add moisture to the now-receptive air and ease the drying pressure on your skin.
Note: If not properly maintained, humidifiers can become hosts for mold and bacteria — yet more triggers for eczema. Find the right settings and keep your humidifier clean.
Nix The Hot Baths
We mentioned this briefly already, but it’s worth noting again. Always use warm — not hot — water in the shower or bath. Also, ideally, you should aim for shorter baths or showers in winter to keep your skin from drying out.
When bathing, it’s also important to use gentle products that moisturize as they clean. For example, our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash helps lock in moisture and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Controlling winter eczema usually means finding out what triggers your outbreaks, and then trying to remove those triggers. In winter, it becomes even more important to prevent flare-ups.
Fragrances are an often overlooked trigger. Pay special attention to laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and, of course, perfumes or colognes.
Get Some Vitamin D
During cold months, you need all the allies you can muster to help relieve and prevent winter eczema. Earlier, we shared how low vitamin D3 levels can impact eczema severity.
Since vitamin D may play a role in reducing the effects of eczema, you may want to consider taking vitamin D supplements to help get you through the darker months of the year or consume foods known to be rich in it, such as salmon, tuna, fortified milk, or egg yolks.
Avoid Irritating Cleaning Products
Anything that irritates your skin shoots to the top of the “avoid like the plague” list. Aggressive cleaning products are on that list. Harsh detergents, soaps, hand sanitizers, and household cleaners — including anything with bleach — can lead to a flare-up.
To keep your house and your skin clean but irritation-free, choose products that are gentle and effective. For the shower, our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash is a good choice, and if you have dandruff, try our Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo.
Keep Your Skin Covered
Winter winds can chill you to the bone in milliseconds and almost instantly dry your skin. So when you’re out and about in winter, cover up as much of your skin as you can to keep it protected.
But be careful what you cover it with…
Take A Look At Your Wardrobe
Scrutinize anything that is going to be up against your skin. Lots of effective winter insulators can also be super-effective irritants: itchy wool sweaters, scarves, and gloves. The solution is to dress in layers.
Make sure the bottom layer closest to your skin is a soft, seamless fabric, such as cotton. Adding layers on top of this serves two purposes. It can help you avoid direct contact with an irritating insulator, and it can keep your skin dry. But isn’t dry skin at the root of the problem?
Yes and no. Dried-out skin — skin that’s lost its natural moisture — is an eczema no-no. But sweaty skin can also induce an eczema flare-up.
Keep your skin from becoming excessively wet by using layers. Feeling a bit warm? Remove a layer. Got a chill? Put it back on.
Watch What You Eat
Many eczema sufferers can trace flare-ups to certain foods. Typical culprits include milk, eggs, and shellfish, but you may have your own personal triggers on top of these.
Find the foods that give you trouble and avoid them whenever possible to keep your winter eczema at bay.
Consult An Expert
Following the tips above should help, but sometimes your best efforts may not be enough. If you’re faithfully avoiding all of your triggers and still experience a very bad flare-up that just won’t quit, see your doctor. Prescription therapies may be the answer.
Winter Eczema — What About Your Baby?
Many eczema cases first appear in childhood, sometimes even in infants. This can be especially scary for you, the parent.
The good news is that even though your little one’s skin may be extra sensitive — their immune system is still developing, as is their skin — many of the same basic principles apply. For instance, find any potential irritants and remove them.
This could be clothing, bedding, cleaning products, and the like. Also, examine your baby’s environment. If it’s too dry for you, it will be for your baby. If it’s cold outside but burning up in the nursery, chances are you’ll have a sweaty baby primed for eczema irritation.
Just like adults, babies should only be bathed in warm water — never hot. In addition, keep their clothes cotton or some other natural, nonirritating fiber. And, if things get really uncomfortable for your little one, see your pediatrician for help.
Establishing A Good Winter Eczema Routine
Harsh, cold weather can be challenging for winter eczema, so be prepared.
Keep your skin hydrated with soothing products, like our Eczema Daily Calming Cream. And bathe with warm water and gentle products, like Bodewell’s Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash and Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo for dandruff.
In addition, stay hydrated from the inside out, eat right, and dress to keep your skin protected but comfortable. With the right habits and products, you can experience better skin days and fewer winter eczema flare-ups!
Cleveland Clinic Johns Hopkins Medicine National Eczema Association National Eczema Society