Facing Cold Weather When You Have Eczema
Sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving, winter really starts to set in. Cold conditions present challenges for eczema-prone skin because of the dry air and the harsh temperatures. We start to wear more clothing to stay warm and our homes can become very dry, both of which is irritating for skin. And while we’re outside, the extreme weather conditions can aggravate our sensitivities. Here are some eczema tips to help you prepare your eczema prone skin for winter:
1. Use a Humidifier
Turning the furnace or heaters on will start to dry out the air in your home. When your home is dry, your skin will dry out too which is a major trigger for eczema. A good humidifier can help to balance the problem. It’s a great idea to run a humidifier at night in your bedroom, and in other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
2. Take Care of your Hands
Just about everyone’s hands get dry in the winter and if you suffer from hand eczema, that can mean uncomfortable peeling, blisters, and cracking. Prevent dry skin by wearing gloves every time you go outside. If your hands aren’t exposed to the elements, you will be at far less risk of hand eczema. However, wool is too itchy so choose leather gloves, or gloves that have an internal cotton lining. The best way to manage hand eczema is to apply an emollient such as Vaniply at bedtime and put Eczema Treatment Gloves over the Vaniply. Eczema Treatment Gloves are available at www.adrescuewear.com for children and adults. Here is an article on effectively treating hand eczema (http://www.adrescuewear.com/blog/stubborn-hand-eczema-ad-rescuewear-to-the-rescue-85e20d/)
As always but especially true in the winter, moisturizing is the key to preventing and soothing eczema symptoms. Use thicker creams than you might during the summer months, and lather up within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath or shower so that your skin can lock in that moisture. Also, moisturize your hands before putting on gloves and again when you take them off. Vaniply is an excellent emollient to use in the winter. Vaniply is available at most Walgreens, CVS pharmacies and Walmart. Call the pharmacy department to make sure they have it. It is an over the counter emollient/barrier moisturizer and the pharmacist can order it in for you.
4. Strategic Bathing
It’s a good idea to change your bathing routine according to the season. Shorter baths and showers with warm water (not too hot, not too cold) are better in the winter. Keep it short and efficient. A longer shower or soak might feel good in the moment, but they can actually cause your skin to dry out by stripping your natural oils.
5. Choose Soaps Carefully
Only use gentle soaps and cleansers that are soothing. Your skin will likely be more sensitive in the winter and could react to products that your skin was able to tolerate in the warmer season. Avoid anti-bacterial soaps and choose non-soap cleansers like those specifically labeled “face cleanser” or “body bar”. Just because something says natural doesn’t mean that it will be gentle and may actually be quite harsh. Always opt for fragrance-free cleansers, and that also goes for your laundry detergent. We recommend visiting the National Eczema Association for products given their Seal of Acceptance at https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-products/cleansers/.
6. Don’t Stay Wet
After being outside in the cold, your clothing might become wet. It could be from rain or snow exposure, or it could be that while some of your extremities were cold that your core became warm underneath your coat and caused you to sweat. It’s important not to stay in any damp clothing, which can be irritating for your skin. While in the process of changing clothing, be sure to moisturize your skin.
The cold can present challenges for eczema sufferers, but with the right planning and care we can enjoy the winter months. Keep your home moist with a humidifier, take care of your hands and your entire body with protective clothing and lots of moisturizer. Follow the tips mentioned here and no matter how cold it gets outside, you’ll have a comfortable winter.