Eczema is a medical condition that causes skin to become infected, inflamed and irritated. Although it is usually diagnosed in children, you can have your first eczema flare-ups in adulthood. Some people also outgrow eczema as they get older. Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema our Santa Barbara dermatologists encounter, but it is a complex disease. It can affect different parts of the body. No matter what type you have, the common symptoms of eczema remain the same. The affected areas are constantly itchy and become dry, thickened, and scaly. For those with darker complexions, the affected skin might become discolored.
If your skin is irritated or inflamed with eczema, we can help you at our Santa Barbara dermatology clinic. Our dermatologists in Santa Barbara can help to diagnose your condition and find the right treatment for your skin. Our eczema treatments will control your condition and keep your skin healthy, smooth, and free of itch. Contact us to make your appointment with a Santa Barbara dermatologist! Remember to stay updated with us on our Facebook!
Though eczema afflicts people year round, the harsh temperatures and weather can trigger an eczema flare-up. Dealing with dry winter air is hard enough for people who don’t have eczema. The combination of dry air and indoor heating systems can dry out the skin. Eczema flare-ups happen more frequently when the skin is unable to moisturize itself. Try these tips to help prevent your eczema from flaring up in the winter!
1. No hot baths
Try re-thinking some of your favorite winter weather habits, like taking hot baths every day. Soaking for a long time in a bath full of hot water is especially drying to your skin. A hot bath can feel wonderful after a long, cold winter day, but hot water strips away a lot of the natural oil that keeps your skin hydrated. Children with eczema shouldn’t stay in the bath too long because their skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s skin. Skip the hot bath or shower, and use warm water instead. However, even a gently warm bath can still dry out your skin, so look for moisturizing products that you can add to your bath water. Adding oatmeal to a bath is great for soothing an eczema flare-up. If you can, try to bathe or shower less often to give your skin a break.
2. Avoid itchy clothing
Some of our favorite winter clothing may be the culprit for irritated skin. Remember to stay warm and wear your hats and scarves, but avoid scratchy materials. Certain materials such as wool or synthetic fabrics can create friction against the skin, leading to itchiness and irritation. You may need to shop around for smoother materials like silk and cotton. Layer these softer items of clothing under your warm winter clothing. Not only will this barrier protect your skin from the itchy material, but wearing several layers allows you to remove or add clothing to control your body temperature. This is important because sweat can also trigger eczema flare-ups.
3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Skin with eczema requires a lot of moisturizing. This is even more important during dry winter months. However, thinner lotions may not be as effective at preventing eczema flare-ups. Use thick moisturizers and apply them immediately after bathing or showering to lock in moisture. You should also be moisturizing often throughout the day. For more painful and itchy flare-ups, you should consider using a hydrocortisone cream for eczema. Talk to a dermatologist in Santa Barbara before use. A doctor may also prescribe something stronger than hydrocortisone. Make an appointment with one of our Santa Barbara dermatologists to treat your eczema flare-ups.
4. Stay hydrated
If you are guilty of turning up the heater, there is a lot of hot, dry air being pumped into your home. This can cause eczema to flare up. A humidifier will add moisture back into the air to combat that dry heat. There are many models of portable humidifiers available. You can also purchase a humidifier that hooks up directly to your heating system. While the humidifier helps to provide moisture directly to the top layer of skin, you should also keep your body hydrated. This will help hydrate your skin from the inside. Most people should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day. Those 64 ounces can include tea or juice if you don’t like drinking water.
5. Use gentle products
Many soaps and cosmetics contain drying ingredients that may irritate the skin. If you have eczema, your skin is especially sensitive. Even the laundry detergent you use can lead to an eczema flare-up. Look for moisturizing soaps and cosmetics that do not include fragrance, dye, or alcohol. Use free and clear detergents that are specially formulated for sensitive skin. See our Santa Barbara dermatology clinic in Santa Barbara to learn more about products that are best for eczema. Your skin will thank you!
6. Control allergens
Some people who struggle with eczema may have a food allergy or dander allergy that can trigger flare-ups. The most common food allergies that may affect skin include dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts. Pay attention to what foods you’re eating and how your body reacts to them. If you suspect that a food allergy is contributing to your eczema symptoms, please consult a doctor. A doctor can test you for allergens so you know which foods and triggers to avoid. Make an appointment at our dermatology clinic in Santa Barbara. We can help!
7. Manage stress
Research has found that chronic stress may contribute to eczema flare-ups. Stress prevents proper functioning of the immune system. If you find that your eczema symptoms increase during high stress, consider your options for managing your stress. Avoid stressful situations as much as possible. Try activities that can lower stress levels such as yoga, gardening, or coloring. This can help alleviate eczema flare-ups.
Learn more about eczema from the National Eczema Association!