About 10% of Americans have eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes itching, flaking, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema affects kids and adults, and in the winter when the air is drier, its symptoms tend to get worse.
Edward H. Stolar, MD, Todd E. Perkins, MD, and our team at Metroderm DC: Medical, Laser, and Aesthetic Dermatology Center help our patients in Washington, DC, battle wintertime eczema with personalized treatments aimed at keeping skin healthy and supple.
Here are seven ways you can help keep your symptoms under control.
1. Forget the baths
Soaking in a nice, warm bath sounds like a target cure for cold-weather blues, but if you have eczema, it’s probably not a good idea. Eczema flares up when your skin is irritated and dry, and a hot bath or a long, hot shower can dry out your skin quickly.
That’s because hot water melts away your skin’s natural oils, leaving it prone to drying, irritation, and, yes, eczema symptoms. Ideally, you should keep your showers brief, use cooler water if you can, and avoid baths and hot tubs entirely.
2. Rethink your skin care products
When you have eczema, you always have to be careful about what you put on your skin. In the winter when skin is extra dry, you need to be even more vigilant.
Swap out a harsher soap or body wash for something that’s gentler, and do the same for your shampoo, too. Not sure what to use? Ask us for some recommendations during your office visit.
3. Make moisturizer a regular part of your routine
Moisturizing regularly gives your skin the added protection it needs to repair its natural barrier and prevent it from drying out. Today, there are lots of moisturizers designed specifically for people with eczema. Choose a lighter formula for daytime use and a heavier cream to slather on before bed.
You need to use moisturizer even if your skin is oily. We can help you select the products that are best for your skin type and your symptoms.
4. Use a humidifier
Winter air is naturally dry, but heating makes it even drier. Adding a humidifier to the mix puts some moisture back into the air, helping your skin retain more moisture. Using a humidifier regularly can help relieve asthma symptoms, too.
5. Drink more water
One of the easiest ways to prevent your skin from getting too dry is to make sure it’s moisturized from within — simply by drinking more water. Not a fan? Choose fruit-flavored seltzer with no sugar added. Just avoid anything with caffeine, which can actually sap moisture from your body.
6. Exfoliate — but not too much
Getting rid of dead skin helps your skin’s natural replenishment cycle, and it can prevent breakouts, too. If you have eczema, though, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.
Aim to exfoliate about once a week, and always soothe your skin afterward with a thick slathering of a gentle moisturizer.
7. Cover up
Cold air is bracing, for sure, but it’s also very drying and irritating to exposed skin. Cover your hands with warm gloves before heading out, and add a scarf to protect your ears and cheeks.
Inside, use household gloves when you’re washing dishes or using household cleaners to prevent chemicals and detergents from causing irritation.
Another way to relieve eczema symptoms: Make an appointment with our team to learn about medical treatments we offer. From light therapy to special dressings to prescription medicines, we can help you keep your symptoms at bay.
To learn how, call 202-659-2223 or book an appointment online at Metroderm DC today.