Late comedienne Gilda Radner was once quoted as saying, “I base my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.” What may appear as a beautiful wool sweater to some, may take on a very different connotation when seem through the eyes of an eczema sufferer. With the cooler weather approaching, the potential for eczema flare-ups increases, and the wearing of warmer clothes in greater amounts is only part of the problem. Change in humidity, temperature, dry air, and central heating are other eczema symptoms can cause this season to turn into a eczema sufferer’s nightmare.
Margaret Cox, CEO of the National Eczema Society says, ” Eczema is individual and we all have different triggers and a change of temperature up and down is very common. Most of us find summer rather than winter worse, but there are others who are completely the opposite.”
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a condition affecting the barrier of the skin and causing abnormalities in the skin’s usual allergy and inflammatory responses. Itchiness is the main symptom, along with dry, itchy, red skin that tends to ooze or become crusty, thick and scaly. Because the skin of eczema patients produces fewer oils and fats, it can’t provide effective protection from irritants and bacteria, which makes everyday substances like detergents and soaps potential triggers for breakouts.
HOW TO PREVENT FLARE UPS
Dr. Cox says, “With eczema, the skin barrier isn’t working as it should. As well as protecting from allergens and irritations, the skin barrier is an important part of controlling the body temperature. People with eczema suffer from being too hot and when you get too hot, you itch and you scratch.” The best advice? Comfy clothes made of gentle fabric like cotton.
Keep Temperatures Constant
When the cooler weather comes, we face constant temperature change as we move from warm houses to the cold outdoors. “As the temperature drops, so does the humidity and, obviously for those of us with eczema, our skin is already lacking in natural moisturizing factors, so you’ve got a double whammy there.” Cox advises avoiding the “double whammy” by wearing layers that can be removed or added to keep your temperature level.
Dr. Cox advises reevaluating your moisturizing routine. She says, “Consider how you’re using your medical moisturizers and emollients. It may be that during the winter months if your skin is drying more you need to use something heavy duty or moisturize more frequently. The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) suggest washing with moisturizer instead of soap and avoiding bubble baths, detergents and shower gels. The association recommends moisturizing three times daily applying a non-perfumed greasy moisturizer. To prevent contamination, you should not place your finger back in the jar of moisturizer after smoothing it on. Rather, remove the amount you will need with a spoon and set it aside.
The British Association of Dermatologists also warns that illness, viral, and bacterial infections are common eczema symptoms as well. Try to avoid coming into contact with germs or people who are infected.
Central air systems can dry out the air in your home. Humidifiers can help compensate by bringing lost moisture back in the air. Keep the humidity level in your home to between 45 and 55 % to prevent skin from drying out. Clean the humidifier regularly to stop the grower of mold. Humidity above 55% may cause dust mites to grow.
If you are suffering from eczema, we hope this helps. Let us know how you handle your eczema when the temperature drops.