Keep Winter Eczema Flares to a Minimum by Following Tips that Experts Recommend.
First, Add Cream to Every Wash-up
Winter's low temperatures and low humidity levels mean a higher risk of eczema flares. To help prevent this, follow the lead of many in the upper Midwest – put a quality lotion, cream or ointment right beside the soap at every sink, tub and shower where people wash-up. While skin is still damp, make an eczema-prone child slather that stuff on like maple syrup on pancakes.
In states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, temperatures drop and stay below freezing early. Subzero temperatures are common December through February. When I moved to a small city in northwest Wisconsin from my home state of Missouri, I quickly noticed as the notorious bitter winter cold set in: Nearly everywhere I went, in homes and in some public places, right beside the soap stood a lotion bottle. My first thought: “Isn't that nice. Such polite people.” I saw it as a kind frill.
Within a month, I realized the lotion was no frill! It was a necessity. I seldom used it and soon found that my hands dried out, cracked, reddened, peeled, and hurt without it. It's the cold and dryness that accomplish this. Being indoors is no cure: It's often dry there too because the furnaces blast moisture out of everything. Of course, for people with eczema-prone skin, even more vigilance is necessary.
During winter, we're constantly told to wash hands to avoid spreading flu, colds and other microscopic nasties. Problem is, this practice makes eczema sufferers more susceptible to flare-ups. And while hand sanitizer adds convenience, it's worse for eczema-prone skin because it's made of super-drying alcohol.
Keep Winter Eczema Flares to a Minimum by Following Tips that Experts Recommend:
1. Use an oil-based moisturizer at least twice a day and after every hand washing or bathing. Vaniply is the best ointment if skin is dry and cracked. Applying immediately after washing is best. Vanicream is the best cream to prevent healthy hands from drying out.
2. Avoid cheap lotions. Heavy creams and ointments are better, especially for eczema. Look at the ingredients list. Try before you buy. If the lotion is runny or watery, stay away. Even if it's not, notice how soon the substance disappears while you rub it in. If it disappears almost right away, it contains too much water and not enough emollient. The National Eczema Association is a great place to find products for eczema and sensitive skin (http://nationaleczema.org/eczema-products/moisturizers/vanicream/).
3. Always wear gloves or mittens before going outdoors. Even if it's for “just a minute” to get something. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves. Additionally, get out the turtlenecks, scarves, hoodies, earmuffs and whatever else needed to reduce skin exposure to the cold. Wearing cotton gloves to bed over an emollient does wonders for hand eczema.
4. For daytime outdoors, apply a minimum SPF 30 moisturizing sunscreen. Even though winter sun is lower in the sky, Old Sol still pumps out UV rays. Add the risk of windburn, and skin – especially noses, cheeks, lips, forehead and ears – takes a real beating without preventive measures. Make sure any lip balms contain sunscreen too.
5. Use the Soak and Seal Method when bathing or showering. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water strips skin of natural oils. Apply an ointment or cream within three minutes of the shower/bath.
6. Avoid deodorant bars, antibacterial soap, perfumed soap, bubble bath, and products containing alcohol, perfume and fragrance. Instead, use warm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap or moisturizing body wash. Again, check out the National Eczema Association for products that have their Seal of Acceptance. http://nationaleczema.org/eczema-products/hair-products/exederm/
7. Pat, don't rub dry. That means more dabbing and none of that back-and-forth speedy buffing with a towel. This is your skin, not a leather shoe!
8. Moisturize while skin is still damp. Slather it on, and rub it in. Don't skimp. You can not overdose on moisturizer.
9. If your child has severe itching and scratching, consider wet wrap therapy. Wet wraps add intense moisture to dry, cracked skin. Don’t let the word “wet” scare you off. The therapy involves damp specialty medical clothing that actually calms the itch and repairs the skin barrier. When applied under a dry layer, children's eczema is immediately soothed. Studies show an average reduction of eczema symptoms by 71% in just 5 days of treatment. This includes sleep loss from itching and scratching. Visit (http://www.adrescuewear.com/effective-therapy-for-eczema-1/) for more information on wet wrap therapy and specialty medical wet wrap clothing for eczema.
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