Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory, itchy skin condition that causes a dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. The eczema flare-ups become severe and frequent during the winters since the air is much drier and low humidity extracts most of the moisture from the wind. Severe winter eczema can lead to people having dry, chapped skin that flakes, cracks or even bleeds. Eczema is usually diagnosed in children but adults can have them too.
Symptoms of winter eczema
- severe itching, especially at night
- dry, scaly patches that are red to brownish-grey on the skin
- small, raised bumps that could leak fluid and scab over if scratched
- thick, cracked, dry, and scaly skin
- raw and sensitive skin
- In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker.
What causes winter eczema
The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it’s thought to be linked to many reasons such as:
- Eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma.
- Some people may have “flare-ups” during the winter season and have the itchy rash in response to certain skin irritants or wearing too many layers of clothing, taking hot baths, or using too many bed coverings or coming into contact with animal dander
- Dry air combined with indoor heating systems can dry out your skin.
- Defects in the skin barrier could allow moisture out and germs in.
How can winter eczema be prevented
The symptoms of eczema are similar to many skin conditions and one may confuse it with other skin conditions. So, it is important to see a dermatologist or a skin specialist to diagnose the problem. At your appointment, your doctor will check your skin and talk with you about your symptoms, your health history in general, and any rashes or allergies that run in your family. Based on that information, she’ll decide if it’s eczema or something else. Some ways to prevent eczema during winters are:
- Moisturising and Hydrating
When one suffers from eczema during winter, their skin becomes dry and loses all the moisture. Applying a thick moisturizer or winter cream right after a shower will lock the moisture in and prevent dryness. Patting the skin to dry rather than rubbing which will cause more irritation There are many lotions, creams, gels and ointments available in the market. As water is sucked out of the skin due to high humidity, staying hydrated is one of the most important things. Drinking an immense amount of water throughout the day is a must. To keep the skin hydrated inside out, one must drink at least 8 glasses of water in a day. Since it is hard to drink-up in winters, consuming teas, coffee, soups, hot water, and lemon and even hot chocolate can add to one’s water intake. Limiting alcohol consumption is necessary to not allow dehydration.
People often mistake by wearing too many layers of clothes to stay away from dryness and cold, but layers of clothes can worsen eczema as it creates overheating and sweating. To not let the skin get irritated one should ditch nylons, man-made fabrics that can stick to skin or hurt the rashes. The best clothes to wear during winters are the ones that are made from breathable cotton. Damp clothes will wreak havoc with eczema-prone skin. When the skies open or if there has been large amounts of snow, immediately take off wet clothing.
- Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments (for skin inflammation)
- Systemic corticosteroids (oral medication)
- Antibiotics (if eczema occurs alongside bacterial skin condition)
- Antiviral and antifungal medications (for fungal and viral infections)
- Antihistamines (for night-time scratching)
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors (prevention of flare-ups)
- Barrier repair moisturizers (for water loss and repair skin)
- Phototherapy (exposure to ultraviolet A & B waves to treat dermatitis)
- Dietary Changes
As the season changes, so one tends to switch up their diet from light summer dishes to warm, heartier meals including stews and casseroles. It’s important to remember that certain foods could be irritants including dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, and wheat.