What Causes Winter Eczema Symptoms
During the winter, the main causes of eczema are transepidermal water loss, or dehydration of skin cells, and a compromised skin barrier from lack of skin lipids. But why exactly does eczema act up in the winter? It has a lot to do with falling outdoor humidity levels, the air getting colder and drier, and indoor heating. These all come together to make your skin much drier, Debra Jaliman, M.D., board-certified dermatologist in New York City and assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tells SELF.
There are many different types of eczema, and a dermatologist can diagnose which specific type you are experiencing. The most well-known is atopic dermatitis, which experts refer to as classic eczema because it can make skin super dry, itchy, and inflamed. Atopic dermatitis can also present as small bumps filled with fluid that break when scratchedleading to painful infections.
Shasa Hu, M.D., dermatologist at the University of Miami Health System, tells SELF she sees many people come into the office during the cold winter months with a special type of eczema called asteatotic eczema. Asteatotic eczema gives a scale-like appearance to the skinmost commonly on the lower legswhich makes it look rough and ashy. In more severe cases, Dr. Hu says, people can have itchy, inflamed areas where the skin surface is broken, giving the skin a cracked look similar to cracked porcelain. .
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What treatment is best for me?
- Should I use a steroid cream or ointment?
- What are the side effects from the steroid cream or ointment?
- Do I need to take any other medicines?
- What is the best way to prevent flare-ups from eczema and atopic dermatitis?
- Is there a certain type of soap I should use?
- My child has eczema. What kind of moisturizer is best for him/her?
- How can I keep my child from scratching the rash?
- I have eczema. Will my children have it?
- How should I care for the rash if I have a flare-up?
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Find The Right Treatment For Your Eczema
Everyones case is unique, so I always recommend that people consult with a dermatologist to help figure out which methods may work best for your eczema.
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Prevent Infection Of The Skin
In persistent eczema where your baby is scratching their skin, doctors are often concerned that the normal bacteria that live on the skin will get into the cuts and cause an infection. Infections are dangerous and can prolong the itching-scratching cycle.
Apple cider vinegar baths are often recommended as a way to stop a staph aureus infection. Studies have shown that babies with eczema who develop a staph a infection are much more likely to develop food allergies.
To safely give your baby a vinegar bath:
- Put 2 cups apple cider vinegar into a full bath tub, or 1/10 of a cup for every gallon of water.
- Never apply vinegar directly to your childs eczema.
- Soak for 15 minutes.
- Pat your babys skin dry, apply any medications, and then moisturize the skin
Why Does Gardening Cause An Eczema Flare
Reviewing the list above of common eczema triggers, you may have noticed that gardening wasnt listed. So why does gardening sometimes cause a flare-up for some people?
All we have to do is look a little more closely at what is involved in gardening, and how the tools we use and the air around us may irritate the skin.
Common triggers for an eczema flare-up when gardening include the following:
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Tips For Preventing An Eczema Flare
Eczema is a general term that refers to several health conditions that lead to irritated, inflamed, and itchy skin. While eczema is most common in children and babies, anyone can develop this condition, even if youve never had signs of it in the past.
The most common symptoms of eczema include:
- Intense itching
- Redness, inflammation, and areas of swelling
- Leathery, roughened, or scaly patches
- Discolored or dark patches of skin
Eczema symptoms can vary in severity from mild to severe, and its possible to experience multiple symptoms at once. Some individuals have a single flare-up, while others struggle with uncomfortable symptoms throughout their entire lives.
Theres no cure for this common condition, but Dr. Lisa Hitchins at Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston offers personalized eczema treatment. This October, in honor of Eczema Awareness Month, Dr. Hitchins shares five tips for avoiding eczema flare-ups.
Take Stock Of All Your Skincare Products
When youre dealing with an eczema flare-up, you probably think long and hard about the lotion you use to moisturize every day. This part may go well! But its equally important to take stock of all of the other products that go on your skin.
Play detective to get to the bottom of what might be irritating your skin, and if youre on the hunt for new products, choose from the natural, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic options as we mentioned earlier.
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Wash With Gentle Hand Soap
If you have eczema on your hands a common site of eczema youll want to be careful with the soap you use day in and day out to keep your hands squeaky clean. Its possible to wash your hands without exposing them to drying chemical ingredients.
With Babo Botanicals Lavender Dream Plant Based Hand Soap, you can cleanse your hands while moisturizing them at the same time!
Its rich, creamy lather has a delicate, dreamy Lavender Chamomile scent and contains antibacterial manuka essential oil harvested from a family-owned farm. It also contains organic argan oil, shea butter, olive oil, and aloe vera to leave your hands soft and smooth.
When youre elbow-deep in water for reasons other than washing up , remember to wear gloves. To provide a buffer between your hands and plastic material, slip your hands into cotton gloves before suiting up with the plastic ones.
Eczema Sos: Getting On Top Of Eczema Flare
Claire Moulds puts you back in control.
When a flare-up strikes it can feel as though youre at the mercy of your eczema, as it becomes increasingly red , itchy and sore, due to inflammation.
Crucially, its vital to nip an eczema flare-up in the bud, before it can progress, to minimise its severity. Left untreated, a flare-up can easily spiral out of control, making it harder to restore your skin to its previous condition.
So, what steps can you take before, during and after a flare-up?
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Choose A Physical Sunscreen
Bard says choosing a physical sunscreen versus a chemical one is the best option for people with eczema. Some chemical sunscreens can be irritating to sensitive skin, she says. According to Piedmont Healthcare, physical sunscreens are also more moisturizing. Look for the words physical or mineral on the bottle and ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Moisturize After Washing Your Hands Or Showering
Some eczema flare-ups are caused by dry skin. Lee said, ironically, you’re skin is drier after it’s wet.
“When your skin gets wet, as you get out of the shower or you dry your hands, there’s moisture on it and it evaporates and it sucks up a lot more of your natural moisture,” Lee said.
But if you moisturize with cream after the shower or washing your hands, the cream will seal in the moisture and prevent it from evaporating, which will prevent a flare-up. Lee recommends moisturizing while your skin is still damp.
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Bonus: What To Do When Flare
Even when we do our best to avoid flare-ups, they can still happen. When they do, it is important to take a couple additional steps.
First, stay hydrated
While drinking water will not cure eczema, it will keep you from becoming dehydrated, which can aggravate the skin.
Secondly, avoid scratching as much as possible
I know, easier said than done, but itching will make it worse. Instead, use cool cloths to ease discomfort and distract yourself in any way possible. Keeping your nails short will help with this too.
Can Adults Develop Chronic Eczema
Yes, you can be diagnosed with eczema as an adult. There are even cases of people over the age of 60 who develop it, even if theyve never had symptoms before.
As an adult, going through your daily life with eczema can be challenging. Flares are different for everyone but typically are itchy, uncomfortable and can even be painful. Rubbing and scratching your itchy skin results in an itch-scratch cycle that can lead to lesions and thickened, leathery skin.
Adults with eczema may struggle with self-confidence issues due to feeling embarrassed about their skin appearance. You may also experience interruptions with your regular activities, such as sleeping or working. The effects of this chronic skin condition can cause excess stress and irritability.
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Tips For Avoiding An Eczema Flare
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that can cause painful and unsightly symptoms, like dry, itchy skin, and red, sore rashes. With the right treatment, eczema can typically be well-managed however, certain factors can trigger an eczema flare-up, also called an exacerbation, in which symptoms worsen for a period of time. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid these flare-ups and keep your skin clear.
Keep Yourself Cool And Refreshed
Its not just excessive exposure to the sun that can trigger a flare-upso too can excessive heat. If you get too hot while youre working, your skin is more likely to get irritated.
That means you want to do everything you can to keep cool while youre gardening.
How to keep cool while gardening:
- Take cool water with you and sip regularly. Use an insulated bottle to keep the water cool.
- Covering your skin can be a good idea, but only if the fabrics are breathable. Good options include cotton, bamboo, and silk.
- Use our Rescue + Relief Spray. Take it with you in your gardening tools tray or belt. When you start to get warm, spritz it on your skin. It will help cool you off while giving the skin helpful anti-inflammatories that can help prevent an eczema flare-up.
- Shed layers: Dress in layers so you can shed some as you warm up. This can also help keep you cool.
- Take a break: No matter how much youd like to finish what youre doing, put your self-care first. Take a break when you need to, and go inside and cool off.
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Use Natural Skincare Products Designed For Sensitive Skin
Harsh, chemical ingredients can do a number on sensitive skin. And whether youre trying to calm an eczema flare-up or are simply on the daily quest to prevent them, you need to avoid irritating your skin.
No matter what type of skincare products you intend to use, we recommend treating your skin to products that are made specifically for sensitive skin and include gentle ingredients.
That said, keep in mind that you know your skin best, and its always a good idea to do a patch test before slathering something all over your face or body!
For natural skincare products designed with you in mind, check out Babo Botanicals eczema and sensitive skin line.
General Tips For Coping With Eczema
Other tips to manage your eczema include:
- Keep your fingernails short longer nails are more likely to injure your skin when you scratch.
- If the water in your area is hard or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
- Swim in the sea in warm weather whenever you can seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure for limited periods for example, when swimming at the beach. This can help relieve eczema symptoms. But be aware that ultraviolet radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. Also, if sun exposure causes overheating, this can also aggravate eczema.
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What To Do When Your Eczema Flares Up
As you now know, there can be many different factors that influence your atopic dermatitis breakout. Pay attention to the patterns of your flare-ups to find the triggers that are relevant to you and take the steps you have control over to mitigate those contributing factors. The most important thing to do when you have an eczema flare-up is to consult a professional. Make an appointment with a dermatologist today to start down the road towards healthier skin!
Aspire Dermatology is equipped to treat a broad range of dermatological conditions. We hold our team of doctors and board certified experts to the exceptionally high standards, meaning that the care youll receive in our stylish office setting will be of the highest caliber.
Avoid Rapid Temperature Changes
When the skin is experiencing big changes in temperature, it starts to dry and feel itchy.
In winter, our skin keeps jumping back and forth between temperature extremes. This cycle of moving from the cold air outside to the warm and dry air indoors can make the skin dry and cracked.
People can reduce eczema flare-ups by avoiding abrupt changes in temperature. Wear gloves, scarves, and hats when outside to stop the skin from getting cold.
Transition slowly between temperatures by using the following strategies:
- Try not to let your skin get cold. People can maintain a more even body temperature by staying inside when possible. Wrap up well when going outside.
- Protect sensitive areas from rapid temperature changes. If you tend to get eczema on your hands, wear gloves every time you go outside.
- Avoid hot water when you are cold. When you come in from the cold, it may be tempting to wash your hands in very warm water, but the quick change in temperature can irritate the skin. Wait until you have warmed up before using warm water.
- Avoid hot showers. After a hot shower, the body cools down quickly again. You can avoid changing the skins temperature too often by not having hot showers when you bathe every day, and always moisturize right after washing.
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Apply Some Restorative Skin Balm Before Gardening
One of the main reasons the skin suffers while gardening is because of the risk of skin barrier breakdown. Sweating and consistently rinsing your hands irritates and dries your skin.
Try applying our Restorative Skin Balm to your hands before you put on your gloves. It can help keep your skin moisturized and happy while youre working. It contains castor oil, which is often recommended to treat eczema. The active component in castor oil is ricinoleic acid, which helps tame inflammation and provides pain-relieving effects.
You can also use the Restorative Skin Balm as an after-gardening balm to help your skin recover from any micro traumas it may have endured while you were working.
Best lip balm for eczema: Use the same balm on your lips before you go out to prevent drying and chapping!
What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema
The conversation with your healthcare provider will need to cover a lot of information. Be sure to be specific about your symptoms.
- Where is your eczema located?
- What have you used to try to treat your eczema?
- What medical conditions do you have? Allergies? Asthma?
- Is there a history of eczema in your family?
- How long have you had symptoms of eczema?
- Do you take hot showers?
- Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
- Have you noticed that something triggers or worsens your eczema? Soaps? Detergents? Cigarette smoke?
- Is there so much itchiness that you have trouble sleeping? Working? Living your normal life?
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Adopt Stress Management Techniques
Eczema can often be treated and prevented by adopting better stress management techniques. Its been shown that stress and anxiety can be harmful to the protective functions of your skin, which can lead to eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other skin problems.
Anything you do to reduce your stress levels can be helpful!
- Stay active
- Prioritize your tasks and delegate when needed
- Stay positive
Doctors Tips For Managing Eczema Flare
- Wed, Aug 18, 2021
Dealing with eczema can be incredibly difficult and unpredictable. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that makes your skin red, dry, itchy, cracked and sore.
The condition is more common than you might think, affecting an estimated 1 in every 5 children and up to 3% of adults worldwide.
A flare-up occurs when eczema symptoms worsen, says Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi. For some people, theres no apparent reason, but individual triggers may include soaps and detergents, cold and dry weather, allergies, or infections.
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Food Allergy And Eczema Flare
- Food allergies are a factor in 30% of young children with severe eczema. This factor is mainly seen in babies.
- The main allergic foods are cow’s milk and eggs.
- The main symptoms are increased skin redness and itching. Some parents report these symptoms start during or soon after the feeding.
- The eczema becomes easier to control if you avoid the allergic food.