Your eczema isn’t exactly like anyone else’s, and you may have identified your own set of triggers. However, most of the 31.6 million women, men, and children in the United States who have atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, find cold winter weather extra challenging.
Dr. Laura Ispas, a top-ranked immunologist in Leesburg, Virginia, knows how frustrating dealing with an eczema flare-up can be. Here, she offers seven tips to keep your skin comfortable and clear throughout the year.
1. Dress in layers
Heat and sweating trigger eczema flares, so prepare for wide-ranging indoor and outdoor temperatures by dressing in easily removable layers. Start with something light that wicks away moisture from your skin, and then add non-scratchy sweaters (try Supima cotton knits), an overcoat, gloves, scarf, and a hat. Prepare to shed layers or bundle them back on, depending on the thermometer and your own body’s signals.
2. Dress your bed in layers, too
Nighttime is the right time for overheating: Warm pajamas combined with heavy quilts and blankets cause sweating and itching. Wear cotton or silk pajamas, and keep a high-thread 100% cotton or silk sheet close to your skin. Layer up with cotton quilts that can be thrown back when your skin needs a breather, rather than wool blankets that could trigger an scratching spell.
3. Avoid the scratchy stuff
If holiday presents left you with mittens, hats, and scarves made out of wool or irritating materials, consider regifting to someone who’s eczema-free and then use those gift cards to get some non-itchy accessories. Fabrics that tend to be eczema-friendly include 100% organic cotton, 100% silk, and microfiber. Be sure to wash before you wear new items to rid the fabric of formaldehyde and other preservatives and also to soften it up.
Central heat keeps you toasty but dries the air and your skin, too. Be sure your home and office are outfitted with safe, effective humidifiers to compensate. You can also get a small, portable humidifier to take when you’re on the go or visiting a place with dry indoor air.
Keep your skin hydrated with oil-based ointments, lotions or creams. They’re best applied in a thick layer within three minutes after you take a shower, before the water moisture evaporates from your skin. Also be sure to moisturize your hands after each time you wash them.
Most people with eczema fare better when using hypoallergenic moisturizers that are fragrance- and dye-free. Dr. Ispas can administer an allergy test if you’re not sure which ingredients to avoid.
Stress and illnesses — including a common cold — can cause an eczema outbreak. Make self-care and de-stressing a normal part of your routine. Some ways to manage stress include daily meditation, yoga, and spending time with family and friends who uplift you.
7. Keep a diary
Keeping track of your eczema flare-ups helps you identify food, fabric, and environmental triggers so you can avoid them in the future. Jotting down your thoughts every day is also a good way to de-stress and remember the good times, too.
If you need help managing your eczema flare-ups or identifying allergens that cause them, call Asthma Allergy & Immunology Institute today for an evaluation. You can also request an appointment using the online form.