Does your skin feel like burlap in the winter? Winter makes things difficult if you have eczema. This is the time of year when eczema is usually at its worse. With winter chills air is generally drier combined with the heat indoors; this dries skin out causing it to itch and scratching can possibly lead to infections.
Frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer to prevent the COVID-19 (please refer to CDC & WHO websites for current updates) spread adds to the hands becoming dry and itchy. This affects the skin microbiome.
Heated buildings can draw the moisture off the skin by evaporating, taking with it many oils and nutrients that help with protection. The eczema skin doesn’t stay moist on its own.
It is important to moisturize red, itchy skin a lot especially during the winter months. Flare-ups may also occur; because the season calls for wearing extra layers, this can be too much, prolonged hot showers or baths, and from piling on too may bed coverings. All these things we tend to do when the cold winter months arrive.
Eczema could be caused by:
- Skin irritants
- Being exposed to certain allergens like, fragrance, dust or pet dander
What Skincare Ingredients to Avoid if You Have Eczema
Fragrance is the number one allergy and should be avoided with eczema. Fragrance is added in produces to entice us with the pretty scent but absolutely not good for those with sensitive skin. If applied to the skin they can cause a reaction leading to a rash and the need to scratch.
Essential oils. Contrary to popular belief, natural is not always better. Many people may still have an allergic reaction on the skin.
Tea tree oil is great as an anti-septic, anti-fungal (foot and shampoo products), anti-bacterial and anti-acne qualities. But it can be pretty potent. It can cause irritation and an allergic contact dermatitis. It is better to avoid for those with atopic dermatitis.
Urea may be wonderful, particularly as a keratolytic, meaning it helps to remove thick, adherent scales associated with psoriasis, calluses and corns. But with eczema it can cause irritation. Urea may also damage the acid mantle of the skin so it is probably best avoided.
Lanolin is derived from sheep’s wool and is used for its emollient properties in many moisturizers. Something you would think would be beneficial to dry skin, however, some with eczema may cause ongoing flare-up.
Retinoid a form of vitamin A are important in acne and anti-aging products but have a tendency to dry out skin with continual use. With eczema they can be irritating and trigger flares. In those with sensitive skin, retinoid may be used occasionally with caution or generally avoided.
Cocomidodopropyl betaine is commonly used in baby shampoos for its no-tears qualities. This foaming agent can be found in many shampoos, conditioners and body washes. Allergic contact dermatitis may be caused in both children and adults.
Propylene glycol an emulsifier often among other ingredients in many common moisturizers and creams. It is also found in many topical steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines used in treating eczema. It may be used in liquid antihistamines. In using topical steroids and oral anti-histamines as a treatment, having an allergy to this ingredient could cause a flare.
Ethanol another word for alcohol, is known to cause drying, stinging and burning, and should be avoided with eczema as well. It is usually used in gels as they are light in weight, cooling and evaporates quickly.
To note, Ethanol differs from Cetyl alcohol. These are fatty alcohols that are more tolerated on the skin and usually used in eczema products.
Tips for the Winter Chill for Eczema Skin
Limit Hot Water Use. Yes we all like a hot shower or bath during the cold winter months but not so good when you have sensitive skin. Heat can rob skin of needed moisture; avoid taking very hot baths and showers, especially in winter. Try warm water and doing these routines for shorter periods. Add moisturizing products to your bath water. Aveeno is a good choice for moisturizing oatmeal baths. Only allow your child with eczema to bathe for 5 to 10 minutes, to prevent drying out the skin.
Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing after bath or shower. Rubbing a towel across skin may scratch your eczema leading you to itch more.
Use a gentle soap. Having eczema your skin is very sensitive and ingredients like fragrance, dyes and alcohol should be avoided. Look for moisturizing soaps without these ingredients. Skip bubble baths especially.
Avoid harsh soaps with your laundry detergent (try All) and dish washing detergent also. Instead find products for sensitive skin.
Season calls for thicker moisturizer. If you have eczema, your skin needs to remain moist; this requires a lot of moisturizing. Opt for a thicker cream form, usually found in jars, during winter and apply right after your bath or shower to hold moisture in.
Petroleum jelly contains no fragrance and is not expensive (Dollar store). It also can be used on lips and as makeup remover. Moisturizer can be used often during your day. Purchase a couple travel sizes to carry along in your bag. For severe, there may be a need for prescription moisturizer, consult your doctor.
Certain materials may cause problems. As with using the ingredient lanolin, wearing wool may also cause a reaction. Wool is a very heavy fabric, nylon and other materials may be overheating also causing flare-ups. Instead wear breathable fabrics like cotton and don’t layer too much. That goes the same with your bedding, in choosing breathable fabrics and not over using layers.
Humidifier is essential. A lot of hot air enters your home and your car while you commute, through heating it during the winters chill. This causes eczema to flare. A humidifier (in your home) will help to balance the dry heat by adding moisture back into your air. There are now portable models. You need to be sure to maintain it to avoid any bacteria and fungi from growing.
Clean and change the water in your humidifier regularly, follow manufactures instructions. Think about using distilled or demineralized water since you will be breathing what it blows out. By keeping it clean, the air you breathe will be clean.
Stay hydrated. By drinking your water your skin will not be thirsty. Take into account the foods you eat that are hydrating (like watermelon and cucumbers). There are all sorts of things to add to water for a flavor variation (slices of lemon/lime, cucumbers, a bunch of dry mint or cilantro).
Vitamin D. Our body naturally produces vitamin D from sunlight which we don’t see a lot during winter. Taking a supplement will suffice. By increasing the skin’s moisture it will aid in preventing some eczema flare-ups this winter.
If you still go for sunlight wear your sunscreen to prevent sunburn, an eczema trigger.
De-stress. I know easier said than done. Find time to do something you love. Yoga is very calming and relaxing. Take a walk, you can do this indoors, even in your home (I’ll carry my cat around in the laundry basket). Use your imagination. Read a book, watch a movie or listen to a relaxing CD.
Try to keep temperatures consistent. Take care of drafty doors and windows in your home. Circulate the heat to these areas.
Don’t forget to moisturize. Don’t pick skin. Does your Eczema skin become worse with winter?
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Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com
https://nationaleczema.org/8-skincare-ingredients-to-avoid/ accessed 10/09/2020