Eczema is a skin condition that can be difficult to contend with year-round, but it often gets worse in the winter months. Preparing yourself for winter’s impact on eczema is critical, and your dermatologist can help.
Eczema is a fairly common skin condition responsible for acute dryness and irritation of the skin. Chronic eczema is also referred to as atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis describes the actual lesions caused by eczema, and in many cases the terms are mistakenly used interchangeably. Eczema can be widespread or restricted to a small area of skin, and can vary in severity. Some people may have eczema without noticing it, while others are plagued by extremely itchy skin that’s red and inflamed. Eczema can develop at any time in a person’s life, but it often begins when you’re a baby. Eczema occurs in some people because of a genetic variation that makes skin more susceptible to environmental factors, irritants and allergens. While eczema isn’t dangerous in most cases, it can be incredibly irritating and unsightly. In rare instances, eczema can impact the eyes or cause nail abnormalities like discoloration or thickening. There’s no cure for the condition, so the key is to manage flare-ups. Flare ups occur when eczema is triggered. Various things can trigger eczema in people, ranging from low humidity to spicy foods in some cases.
Winter is the source of many people’s worst flare ups for a variety of reasons. Cold air holds less moisture, so winter weather is far drier than any other season. Dryness is almost universally a trigger for eczema, unlike some other less common environmental factors. Because the air is so dry in winter, especially here in New England, it can sap moisture from the skin. Extreme temperature shifts, like coming into a warm home after time in very cold weather or vice versa can also trigger eczema. All of these different factors work together to make winter the hardest season for most people with eczema.
So what can you do to make sure that your skin is ready for winter’s worst? Your dermatologist offers a few different treatment options for eczema that might work for you. First of all, it’s important that you get your eczema under control year-round. Once you’re treating your eczema with the right medication, you can find other help at your dermatologist’s in the form of light therapy. Sometimes referred to as phototherapy, light therapy uses UVA and UVB light to treat stubborn or widespread eczema. If your eczema kicks it up a notch in the winter, light therapy might be the supplementary treatment you need.
At home, you can do a lot to prevent flare ups as well. Use a humidifier indoors to balance out the dry air. Be prepared to have multiple humidifiers so that the whole house can have the right level of humidity. Humidifiers should have a recommended square footage that they work best for. Additionally, using hypoallergenic moisturizers to give your skin a much needed hydration boost is a great idea. Look for eczema-friendly products, and don’t stop using topical prescription medication for eczema, if they’ve been prescribed to you.
To deal with sudden extreme changes in temperature changes, make sure your home is well-insulated and free of drafts. Keep your thermostat set to a consistent temperature and be sure that you’re bundling up appropriately. Too many layers, and you may sweat, which can itself be a trigger for a flare-up.
Now that you’re armed with some tips for combating eczema in the winter, you should be ready for the worst it can throw at you. If you need more help or advice, don’t hesitate—call the eczema experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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