Contributed by – Krushna Charan
Winter season is all about cold temperatures, shorter days and longer nights. We welcome winters with open arms because it also means dressing up in our winter clothes, curling up with a cosy blanket, soaking up the sun, mouth-watering dishes, and savouring a hot cup of coffee or tea.
While we are looking forward to enjoying the winters, we shouldn’t neglect the fact that it brings many diseases such as allergies, cold, flu and various skin diseases with it. It is also a tough time for our skin because of the dry air and drop in temperature. According to different types of skin, many people may get eczema flare-ups during winters. Eczema is a condition that gets worse in winters and typically appears in hands and face. In such a scenario, it is imperative to make efforts towards taking care of your skin and prepare for the harsh weather. Read on to know more about eczema and how to treat sudden flare-ups in winters.
What is eczema?
Eczema occurs due to the trans-epidermal water loss, or dehydration of skin cells, and a compromised skin barrier from lack of skin lipids. It causes a dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. The most well-known type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis. ‘Atopic’ means that someone is sensitive to allergens such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites whereas the term ‘Dermatitis’ describes inflamed skin.
Many children are also affected by eczema in their teenage years. This condition may continue into their adulthood as well. Eczema can also develop in adulthood for the first time.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
If you have eczema, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Severe itching while sleeping
- Dry, scaly red patches on the skin
- Small, raised bumps on the skin that could leak fluid if scratched
- Cracked, dry, and scaly skin
- Raw and sensitive skin which is rough to touch
Why does eczema flare-ups occur in winters?
Healthy skin acts as a protective barrier. When you experience eczema, first your skin leaks moisture and gets dried out and can be irritated by cold temperature, humidity, and wind. Dry air in winters combined with an indoor heating system can dry out the moisture on your skin and trigger eczema. Eczema flare-ups can also occur due to wearing layers in winters or taking hot baths. Certain factors can cause eczema flare-ups that include:
- Skin irritants
- Skin infections
- Allergens such as pet dander and dust mites
[Also read: Common winter diseases and health tips]
How do you treat eczema flare-ups?
There’s no treatment for eczema flare-ups, but we can manage the symptoms of this condition by taking these following steps.
Avoid hot showers
You should take a shower with warm water instead of hot water. You can add some moisturizing products to the water while bathing so that your skin won’t dry out. You should not rub the skin with a towel after bath. You can let your skin dry by only patting with a towel. This process may leave some moisture on your skin and control eczema flare-ups.
Use a good moisturizing soap and skin sensitive detergent
Those who are affected by eczema have very sensitive skin. They should avoid using bath soaps with unwanted added ingredients. You should use moisturizing soaps that can add moisture to your skin. This applies detergent products that you use for washing clothes.
Moisturize your skin regularly
Moisturizing your skin can manage the eczema flare-ups. If you have eczema, you should moisturize your skin immediately after bathing by using certain moisturizers such as petroleum jelly and lotions. You should consult with your doctor for painful and itchy flare-ups. Your doctor may recommend creams containing hydrocortisone or hydrocortisone acetate or something stronger to control your flare-up.
Get some vitamin-D
Your skin naturally makes vitamin-D when it’s exposed to sunlight. But since in winters, there is a dearth of sunlight because of the cloudy or foggy conditions you should consider taking vitamin D supplements after consulting with your doctor to relieve the eczema flare-ups.
Use a humidifier
Hot air from indoor air heaters can dry out your skin and trigger eczema flare-ups. a humidifier in your home can add moisture to the air. You have to make sure that you use only distilled water in the humidifier and change it frequently.
You should keep your skin hydrated by drinking water frequently. You should drink an adequate amount of water. Drinking water can moisturize your skin and manage eczema flare-ups. You can also hydrate yourself by eating citrus fruits like oranges or drinking fresh juices.
Eat eczema friendly foods
Eczema can be caused by some type of foods such as milk, shellfish, and eggs. Foods that contain prebiotics may help in reducing eczema symptoms. If you have any food allergies that cause eczema flare-ups, you should consult with your doctor to make changes in your diet.
When you can’t break the itch and scratch cycle by using any moisturizer or anti-itch cream, it is advisable to seek medical attention and go for a full body health checkup or allergy test to find out the underlying cause.
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