More than 30 million people in America suffer from one of the eight forms of eczema. This skin condition, which results in itchy, red rashes across the body, varies in intensity from person to person. Some may experience severe flare-ups and discomfort, while others may only feel mild irritation. In either circumstance, many sufferers report that they experience an increase in eczema-related flare-ups during the winter months, though this is not the case for everyone. To lessen the effects of eczema symptoms when cooler weather arrives, it is crucial to understand the role that the weather plays when it comes to your skin and the symptoms these factors elicit.
Dry Air Leads to Dry Skin & Eczema
In the wintertime, dry skin is a common complaint for a shocking number of people, even for those who do not have eczema. One reason for this phenomenon actually has little to do with the chill outside and more to do with the heat indoors. Often times when indoor heating systems are powered on, the air inside becomes overly dry. In turn, this dry air removes an excessive amount of moisture from the skin, resulting in dry skin. When the skin becomes dried out, symptoms such as itching, burning, tightness, and flaking typically occur. For eczema sufferers, dry skin is a recipe for disaster. Moisture is crucial to keeping eczema symptoms at bay, meaning that symptoms are likely to worsen due to the dry air. Unfortunately, the cooler air outdoors is also much drier than in other seasons. To combat dry air indoors, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air without sacrificing warmth.
Shifting Temperatures May Irritate Eczema Rashes
When winter approaches, your body is regularly subjected to shifting temperatures. Your home or office may be warm, while the temperatures outdoor may be below freezing. As you leave the frigid temperatures and enter the more comfortable indoors or vice versa, your body reacts to this change. A notable response from fluctuating temperatures is a sense of itchiness. This can happen to anyone, regardless of whether or not you have existing skin problems. If you are already battling the effects of eczema, however, this itchy feeling may tempt you to scratch and irritate existing problem areas. Be sure to resist giving into the fiercely bothersome itching to decrease the risk of infection.
Layers of Clothing Can Increase Eczema Symptoms
One reason you might notice an increase in eczema symptoms in the winter is due to your clothing. A heavy coat or sweater can rub against your skin, causing irritation, and may also cause you to overheat, each of which can cause your eczema to flare up. Be sure to wear soft clothing and dress in layers so that you remain comfortable throughout the day. Similarly, many materials used to manufacture winter clothing, such as wool, are common allergens. If you are allergic or sensitive to wool or other heavy materials, be sure to examine your clothing labels.
Moisturizers to Treat Eczema
To keep outbreaks at bay, a gentle moisturizer is an effective eczema treatment. While you may use a moisturizer year-round, the drier conditions in the winter may warrant switching to a thicker formula. Apply the moisturizer as often as it is needed, but be sure to coat the skin after bathing. For best results, avoid hot baths and showers, and choose a moisturizer designed specifically as an eczema treatment. This will ensure that there are no harsh irritants or fragrances included within the moisturizer, which will only further aggravate your symptoms.
Contact CDCRI for Eczema Treatment Research Studies
If you are struggling to manage your eczema symptoms this winter, contact the experts at the California Dermatology & Clinical Research Institute for relief. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839.