With Winter Comes Dry Skin and Eczema – What to Do (or Don’t)

By staff

Our days are finally getting colder which brings relief to many allergy sufferers. With the first few frosts, much of the mold and pollen is killed off, bringing clear breathing and no more itchy eyes and throats to many people. Ahhh, we can finally breathe. On the other hand, with the colder, drier air and the need to heat the indoors, comes dry skin. Where dry skin is, eczema often follows.

Eczema can actually be prevented fairly easy, but requires maintenance, and once it starts, a cycle begins of itching and scratching and then the condition worsens. There are actually a few different skin conditions that fall under the category of eczema, but the bottom line is that it is a very uncomfortable condition to have, and here is what we can do to prevent it.

DO:

• Moisturize your skin consistently (some highly recommended brands of lotions and creams are Aveeno, Eucerin and Cetaphil)
• Keep hand lotion in your car or purse so you can moisturize throughout the day if eczema is a problem on your hands.
• Use a gentle soap without fragrance in the shower or bath and use cool to warm water, not hot.
• Apply moisturizer within just a few minutes of getting out of the shower or bath, that way the moisturizer seals in the water from bathing.
• Wear gloves while doing dishes or anything else that keeps your hands in water for large amounts of time.
• Use a humidifier in your house, especially your bedroom.
• Drink a lot of water; keep your body moisturized from within and it will help.
• If nighttime scratching is a problem, you may want to try sleeping with gloves (or socks) on your hands. You can also try taking some Benadryl to help control the itching.

DON’T:

• Take hot showers or baths.
• Bathe daily. Try to go to an every day bathing schedule or even less. It’s winter time and we don’t need to bathe quite as much.
• Smoke! The smoke is horrible for your hands and face and really dries the skin.
• Use anything with added fragrances, like soap or laundry detergent.
• Expose your skin to very hot or very cold air. If you do, slather on the moisturizer afterwards.
• Scratch! It only makes things worse and prolongs the eczema. It also can lead to infection if you break the skin. You may want to keep your nails short so that you have a less chance of doing so, and make sure your hands are always clean so you don’t worsen the condition by accidentally scratching with dirty fingernails.

You do want to try and keep any eczema under control. It is difficult with the dry, cold air, but not only is the condition uncomfortable and even unsightly, but it also makes the skin susceptible to other conditions like molluscum or the aforementioned infection. The two keys to controlling eczema are do moisturize and don’t itch! If you continue to follow these tips with no relief, see your doctor. He or she may be able to provide something more to help you keep your eczema under control.

- Heather Legg

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