According to the National Eczema Association, more than 30 million Americans have some form of eczema. The symptoms are different for everyone, but the best way to find out if you do indeed have it is to check with your doctor. If you do suffer from eczema, the dry conditions during the winter months can make the skin condition worse. Here are some winter skincare tips to help keep your symptoms at bay.
People who suffer from eczema have skin that is chronically under hydrated. You might be surprised to learn that prevention may be the best medicine for your condition. A great starting point is avoiding hot showers and baths, which can dehydrate the skin. Instead, a lukewarm shower or bath is recommended. Soaking in a tub in lukewarm water for three to five minutes is ideal. Afterwards, it is important to apply a product that will retain water in the skin. Oily agents such as ointments should be used in very small amounts and warmed in the hand. Apply a thin layer within three minutes of bathing while the skin is still damp to retain the moisture.
Many other products can be used to hydrate after bathing, and then be applied several times daily as needed to keep moisture in the skin. Other moisturizing agents such as Eucerin®, Lubriderm® and Cetaphil® can also be used depending on your hydration needs.
Reduce the itch-scratch cycle
When skin is dry, it can get itchy. Scratching it damages the ability of skin to hold water, which causes more itching. And if skin is damaged from scratching, it can take up to two weeks for skin to heal. To help stop the itching, you can use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment (0.5% to 1%) three to four times daily for up to a week. If your lesion is wet, the cream is a better choice. If it is hard and dry, ointment will help with the itching and will help keep moisture in the skin. If these remedies don’t offer relief, there are stronger medications your medical provider can prescribe.
Know what your triggers are
People with eczema regularly report that certain “triggers” tend to make their eczema worse. Things like dry skin, stress, food and other allergens, humidity and other temperature extremes can bring on exacerbations. Knowing your triggers and doing your best to avoid them can also help.
Prevention really is the best medicine. By following these winter skincare tips of reducing your triggers, stopping the itch, and hydrating the skin, you can make the upcoming dry season more comfortable.