If you are someone who suffers from eczema, you may notice that your symptoms tend to flare up during the colder winter months. If you find yourself feeling incredibly itchy this Winter season, chances are it is due to the lack of moisture/humidity in the air.
Today, we look at everything you need to know about treating, preventing and reducing the chances of an eczema flare up this Winter season. If you’re ready to stop scratching and peeling, simply read on to find out more.
What Is Eczema?
Before we get into how you can go about treating or reducing the chances of winter eczema, it is vital that we first grasp a basic understanding of what eczema actually is. In layman’s terms, eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry skin, rashes, itchiness, scaly patches, blisters and skin infections. Left untreated, eczema may result in the formation of welts, lesions, and raw patches of skin that may differ in severity based on a variety of different physiological and environmental factors.
If you suffer from eczema, you may experience any combination of the following symptoms:
- Itchy skin that tends to worsen at night;
- Raw or sensitive skin;
- Raised bumps on the skin that may leak fluid;
- Dry, scaly patches that appear brownish-gray; and
- Cracked or dry skin.
For a more in-depth look into eczema, be sure to check out our dedicated Eczema page.
Is There A Cure For Eczema?
Currently, there is no known cure for eczema. However, there are a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes you can make to ease symptoms or prevent serious flare ups.
Depending on your age and the severity of your symptoms, treatments might include: dermatologist prescribed moisturisers/topical medications, topical corticosteroids, light therapy or immunosuppressants. Many eczema sufferers also find lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, cryotherapy, meditation and reduced stress levels to help with easing and reducing symptoms.
Why Does Eczema Worsen In Winter?
Frequent Temperature Fluctuations
One of the contributing factors to eczema worsening in the winter months is the frequency fluctuations in temperature. As we jump back and forth between temperature extremes (from cold air outside to warm air inside), the skin suffers and may end up becoming dry, cracked or itchy. You can lower the chances of a flare up by avoiding abrupt changes in temperature and wearing protective gear such as scarves, gloves, mittens or hats when heading outdoors. g
Low Humidity Levels
In Winter, the cold air, wind and a significant decrease in humidity are all contributing factors to eczema flare ups. Additionally, frequent use of indoor heating systems can further dry out the air causing skin to become dry, peel or crack. We suggest investing in a humidifier which will bring more moisture into your air and skin to make up for a loss of humidity in Winter.
Hot Baths or Showers
As divine as it is to step into a hot bath or shower, many dermatologists advise against doing so during the winter months, especially if you suffer from eczema. This is because hot water can cause big fluctuations in body temperature on top of also drying out and irritating your skin. Hot can also cause damage to the keratinocytes on the epidermis, creating dry skin and preventing cells from locking in moisture. Instead, we suggest lukewarm showers or baths for no longer than 10-15 minutes.
How To Treat & Prevent Eczema In Winter
There are many things you can do to treat or prevent eczema symptoms from showing up in the colder, Winter months. These include:
Low Intensity Light Therapy: At Victorian Dermal Clinics Melbourne, we offer low intensity laser therapy (LILT) which provides versatile results individually and as a combined therapy for the treatment of conditions such as eczema. A low intensity laser emits a powerful but gentle beam of light which is absorbed by the tissue cells. This provides the cell with energy and stimulates receptors to activate or “turn on” the regeneration process. The various wavelengths of light target various depths of the skin targeting receptors within the cells of tissue creating a photochemical reaction that leads to a remarkable improvement in the function of the skin cells.
Get More Vitamin D: Because we are exposed to less sunlight (and as a result, less Vitamin D) in winter, our bodies may have more trouble than usual when it comes to repairing the skin. A review of studies from 2016 suggests that vitamin D supplements can significantly improve the symptoms of eczema or atopic dermatitis. Thus, daily supplementation of Vitamin D may improve your skin’s condition and reduce the chances of an eczema flareup.
Frequent Moisturising: Frequent moisturising is a part of skincare for eczema in the Winter months. You may require a heavier lotion or moisturiser with a high oil content and that contains ingredients such as Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Jojoba, Glycerin or Aloe. We recommend staying away from moisturisers containing fragrances, parabens or harsh chemicals.
Using A Humidifier: Investing in an indoor that is able to add moisture back into the air will prevent your skin from drying out so quickly in the Winter months. We suggest keeping the humidifier running in your bedroom overnight for maximum benefit.
Skipping The Scents: When it comes to your laundry detergent, body wash or moisturiser, we suggest skipping the scented options in favour of unscented varieties. This is because scents and fragrances can aggravate the skin, leading to uncomfortable eczema flare ups.
Avoiding Direct Contact With Cleaning Products: If you are someone who loves cleaning your house, we highly recommend using household cleaning gloves to prevent your skin from coming into direct contact with harsh chemicals or cleaning products.
Being Mindful Of Your Clothing: What you wear can have a huge impact on your skin. If you suffer from eczema, we highly recommend embracing the concept of layering your clothing as doing so will allow you to respond to changing temperatures quickly and easily. This in turn keeps your skin at an evenly warm temperature, allowing it to breathe and reducing the chances of sweat build up that may irritate eczema.
Ask For Help
Are you already incorporating the above lifestyle changes into your life but still suffering from serious eczema flare ups? The team at Victorian Dermal Clinics Melbourne have years of experience in treating eczema patients with highly effective Low Intensity Light Therapy. To find out more or to book a consultation, simply contact us today.