If you get red, scaly, itchy patches on your skin now and then, you may be among the 30 million Americans with atopic dermatitis, commonly called eczema. Eczema flare-ups can occur any time of the year, but winter can be especially challenging. That is because the dry and cold air during winter can make your skin drier, increasing your risk of a flare-up. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep eczema & rashes Santa Barbara under control during cold weather, which includes:

Cover exposed skin when outside

Cold air makes your skin dry, which can worsen eczema symptoms. Therefore, protecting exposed areas like your scalp, face, neck, and hands is essential. Wearing gloves not only keeps you warm but also protects your hand from extreme temperatures when outdoors. You can use a scarf or hat to cover your neck, face, and scalp; these areas can also be sensitive to cold. While many people wear wool garments during winter, this fabric tends to be coarse and can set off an itch-scratch cycle. As such, it is best to opt for soft materials like cotton, merino wool, or bamboo.

Keep your skin moisturized

The best treatment for eczema is a proactive one, which includes moisturizing at least twice a day, and anytime your skin gets wet, especially after a bath or shower. Dry skin gets brittle and tight and can crack, allowing bacteria and allergens inside. To keep your skin moist, apply thick creams and ointments; these can feel greasy but retain moisture for longer. Lotions with a thin consistency generally won’t cut it during this time. At the very least, use a moisturizing cream; an ointment like petroleum jelly is even better.

Steer off scented soaps and detergents

Your sensitive skin is especially prone to flares in cold weather, so you want to avoid contact with potentially irritating products. Avoid antibacterial or deodorant soaps; instead, switch to mild non-soap cleansers. Remember that perfumes or fragrances can also irritate your skin; choose fragrance-free free skincare items, including lotions and cleansers. The same applies to cleaning products; go for the ones that do not contain fragrance or dye.

Resist the lure of a long, hot shower

A steamy hot shower can feel great, especially when cold outside. However, showering for a long time with hot water strips your skin of its natural oils; this can worsen atopic dermatitis. Shower with comfortably warm water and take no more than ten minutes. Afterward, use a towel to pat dry; do not rub because friction can cause skin irritation. As previously mentioned, moisturizing is vital when it comes to preventing flare-ups. Therefore, you want to slather a moisturizing cream on your skin while it is damp.

Layer up

While exposing your skin to cold air can trigger an eczema flare-up, dressing too warmly is not the solution. Avoid the hot-cold cycle by wearing several light layers instead of one heavy one. That way, you can remove a layer when you start feeling hot and uncomfortable; the goal is to maintain an even skin temperature.

Consult your provider at LUX Dermatology to learn more about eczema prevention.

By otto