7 Treatments for Winter Eczema Flare-Ups

Using a humidifier and a thick moisturiser when it’s cold out can help relieve eczema flare-ups. But certain fabrics and types of soap may make symptoms worse.

Eczema flare-ups are common in winter due to the air being drier than normal. Here are seven tips to help you cope with eczema flare-ups this winter.

What is eczema?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes a dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. Eczema can be so itchy that someone with the condition can have trouble sleeping.

If you have eczema, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • severe itching, especially at night
  • dry, scaly patches that are red to brownish-grey on the skin
  • small, raised bumps that could leak fluid and scab over if scratched
  • thick, cracked, dry, and scaly skin
  • raw and sensitive skin

Eczema often first appears in children. By age 5, 1 in 10 children will be diagnosed with eczema. Many children outgrow eczema by their teenage years. About 50 percent of children with eczema will continue to have eczema into adulthood. It’s uncommon for eczema to develop for the first time in adulthood, but it’s possible.

Another term for eczema is atopic dermatitis. “Atopic” relates to conditions that happen when someone is overly sensitive to allergens in the environment, such as pollen. “Dermatitis” describes inflamed skin.

Half of children who develop eczema are likely to have asthma or hay fever. There are many triggers that cause eczema flare-ups, though it’s suggested that it’s passed through genetics. There’s no known cure for eczema.

Why does eczema sometimes get worse in the winter?

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. Eczema flares up because the skin can’t stay moist on its own. Flare-ups can also be caused by wearing too many layers of clothing, taking hot baths, or using too many bed coverings. These are all things you’re more likely to do during the cold winter months.

Eczema may also be caused by:

  • skin irritants
  • infections
  • stress
  • exposure to certain allergens, such as dust or pet dander

To combat problems with eczema in the winter, try these tips:

1. Skip hot baths

Because heat can cause your skin to dry out, you should avoid taking very hot baths in winter. Instead, use warm water, and try to bathe or shower less frequently. To keep your skin moist while bathing, add some moisturising products to the water. Look for products that are specifically made for the bath. For example, there are moisturising oatmeal products that can be added to the bath. Limit time in the bath as well. Children with eczema should only take baths that are 5 to 10 minutes long.

After your bath or shower, don’t rub your skin with a towel. Pat yourself dry instead. Rubbing your skin with a towel may scratch your eczema, which can cause you to itch more. Patting yourself dry may avoid this and will also leave a little moisture on the skin.

2. Use a gentle soap

If you have eczema, your skin is very sensitive. Avoid soaps and other bath products with unwanted added ingredients. Look for moisturising soaps that are fragrance, dye, and alcohol free. Our SkinRepairX range have 2 excellent soap substitutes, Colloidal Oat Cream and Emollient Cream.  Skip bubble baths altogether.

Don’t forget to avoid harsh soaps in your laundry detergents as well. Look for detergents that are formulated for sensitive skin.

3. Use an emollient 

If you have eczema, your skin requires a lot of moisturising. Use an emollient and apply it immediately after bathing or showering. Our SkinRepairX range consist of 4 products that are very effective at treating and easing the symptoms of eczema.

Make sure to use your emollient of choice at least twice a day.

4. Avoid contact with certain materials

Some fibres, such as wool, nylon, and others, can irritate skin and cause eczema. They also may cause overheating, which also leads to flare-ups.

Dress in breathable materials, such as cotton, and avoid wearing too many layers. Also, eliminate unnecessary layers on your bed and make sure bed linens are made from breathable fabrics as well.

5. Try a humidifier

Your heating system pumps a lot of hot air into your home. That likely irritates your eczema-prone skin. Use a humidifier to combat the dry heat. A humidifier adds moisture back into the air. There are portable humidifiers as well as ones that can be hooked up to your heating system. Be sure to maintain the humidifier to avoid bacteria and fungi growth.

Change the water in your humidifier often and clean the machine every three days. Consider using distilled or demineralized water. Since a humidifier blows moisture into the air you’re breathing, keeping it clean will help keep the air you’re breathing clean as well.

6. Drink plenty of water

Keeping your body hydrated can help keep your skin hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day. This will help moisturize your skin. Those eight glasses can include cups of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or your other favourite warm winter beverage.

Slice up lemons or other citrus fruits and add them to the water for a mild flavour.

7. Take a Vitamin D supplement

Taking vitamin D supplements in the winter may improve eczema flare-ups, according to a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital. The study looked at 100 Mongolian schoolchildren and found that the children treated daily with vitamin D supplements saw a reduction in winter eczema symptoms. While vitamin D supplements are inexpensive, you can also use ultraviolet light to stimulate vitamin D production.  Northumbria Health offer a 1 year supply of high strength Vitamin D Softgels.

Create a routine using these tips

If you create a daily routine with these seven tips in mind, the itching, pain, and rash caused by eczema should improve this winter. Contact your doctor if your eczema becomes severe.