Winter is a time that can fill eczema sufferers with dread. Many find that their symptoms become more aggravated once the weather starts to turn cold and the central heating is turned on. While there is no cure, most people can effectively manage their disease with steroid ointments and regular moisturising emollients and by avoiding irritants.
Symptoms may flare up and then subside for a period of time before reappearing. Understanding what causes your eczema ‘triggers’ can help you to manage your symptoms and reduce the number of flare ups that you suffer from. Some people may find that certain ingredients in skin care products or foods can lead to an itchy rash. Another area to consider is cleaning products such as washing detergent or chemicals in household cleaners. Stress can cause the condition to worsen. You may find that eczema flare-ups occur more frequently or get worse in the winter. Dry air combined with indoor heating systems can dry out your skin.
Tips to help:
Andrea Patel, the founder of Dermacare Direct has given us her top tips on how to manage eczema.
– Avoid harsh soap, detergents and shampoo when you wash
Conventional soaps and detergents remove the natural ‘oils’ from the skin. This will cause skin that is already delicate to become dry and itchy and more sensitive to irritants. Instead, use a thick emollient (moisturiser) as a soap substitute and add an emollient to the a bath or shower.
– Avoid moisturisers with fragrances (perfume),additives and preservatives.
– Some find ‘biological’ detergents to be irritating. Use non-biological cleaning products and give clothes a double rinse. Don’t be tempted to add fabric conditioners at the end of the cycle.
– Take lukewarm baths with emollients, but don’t stay in the water too long
– Pat the skin dry with a towel – never rub eczematous skin dry
– Wear natural fabrics next to your skin such as cotton, hemp and bamboo– avoid wool and polyester
– Wear loose rather than tight-fitting clothes
– Keep your fingernails clean and short and try not to scratch or rub your skin
– Destress to stay calm. Try to meditate just a few minutes a day to reduce tension as being stressed can make eczema worse.
– Wear rubber gloves with a cotton lining when using detergents
or working with other similar chemicals.
– Extremes of temperature and humidity may trigger a flare-up of eczema symptoms. Try to avoid going from a hot centrally heated building into extreme cold and vice versa.