Winter is the season for cozy sweaters, steaming mugs of tea, nights around a crackling fire, and dry and itchy skin. For people with eczema, winter is a time of itchy skin and flare-ups. Life doesn’t have to be this way, though. If you have eczema, you don’t have to fear winter and think that it equates to itchy-skin misery. There are steps you can take during the winter to keep flare-ups and dryness at bay.
Why Is Eczema Worse During The Winter?
Eczema is a skin condition that causes dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. People with eczema can experience severe itching, thick or scaly skin, dry patches that look scaly, and even raw or sensitive skin. It’s possible to experience more flare-ups or more severe itchiness during the winter. The moist outdoor conditions of snow or rain and indoor heat can cause dry skin, itchiness, or flare-ups. It’s also possible to experience flare-ups as a result of wearing too many layers, taking showers or baths that are too hot, or using too many blankets while sleeping.
When you take the proper measures to protect the skin, eczema is manageable condition. There isn’t a single remedy or answer that works for every person, but there are tips to help calm symptoms or winer flare-ups. Learn more about these remedies below.
Avoid Rapid Temperature Changes
Any time the skin experiences a rapid change in temperature, it starts to feel itchy and dry out. The constant back and forth between colder outdoor temperatures and warm, dry indoor temperatures can cause the skin to dry out quickly. If you have eczema, try wearing gloves, scarves, and beanies or winter hats when outside so as to keep the skin warm. Try your best to not let the skin get cold and protect sensitive areas from rapid temperature changes. Avoid hot water when you’re cold and make showers or baths warm, not scalding hot.
Hands dry out quickly during the winter, and people with hand eczema can experience deep cracks, peeling, or blisters. Protect your hands from this damage by wearing gloves when you’re outside. Dermatologists agree that protecting the hands from the winter environment can help them retain moisture. Don’t use wool gloves, though, because they can cause itchiness to eczema-prone hands.
Moisturize…Then Moisturize Again
If you want to control your eczema during the winter months, you need to have moisturizer at the ready. One study found that parents, who were educated about moisturizing their children who had eczema, were able to significantly improve their children’s skin during the winter. Using emollients is advisable because they help lock moisture into the skin, while also allowing it to breathe. Moisturize the skin within three minutes of exiting the shower or bath to help seal the moisture into the skin.
Use Gentle Soap
With the presence of new COVID-19 variants, health experts continue to encourage frequent hand-washing. If you have eczema or sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid harsh soaps or bath products that have harmful ingredients. Try your best to use gentle, moisturizing soaps that don’t contain dyes, alcohol, or fragrances. Harsh soaps are also laundry detergents, so look for those ingredients in detergents as well if you want to keep your skin healthy.
Use A Humidifier
The heating system in your home makes the air dry, which can irritate your eczema. Add moisture back to the air by combatting the warm, dry air with a humidifier. There are portable humidifiers that you can place in each room, but you can also invest in larger ones that you can hook up to a heating system. Make sure to frequently change the water in the humidifier (every three days is sufficient) to avoid fungal or bacterial build-up.
Supplement With Vitamin D
The skin naturally creates vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Because of the lack of sun during winter, it’s more difficult to get the vitamin D that the skin needs for repair and maintenance. One study found that people with eczema who supplemented with vitamin D during winter were able to reduce flare-ups. A review of studies from 2016 found that vitamin D supplements help to improve eczema symptoms. Consult with your health care professional about which vitamin D supplement is best for you.