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‘Tis the season for triggers

It's the most wonderful time of the year when everything seems to set off your eczema and allergies. We asked an allergist and immunologist for advice.

‘Tis the season for triggers

It’s not always the hap-hap-happiest season of all when you have eczema and allergies. In many parts of the United States, the air is drier now, and low humidity primes the skin for flares.

Bundling up for outdoor activity and returning to overheated homes can mean setting off a cycle of sweating, itching, scratching and irritation. Rapid temperature changes also contribute to dry, cracking skin.

And that’s not all. Besides sending out asthma-triggering smoke and waves of hot, skin-parching air, that inviting fireplace or cozy wood-burning stove is likely harboring dust. The pile of leaves your child wants to play in is probably full of mold and mildew. And, while a wool sweater may seem like appropriate wear, it can leave you with an itchy rash.

We asked allergist and immunologist Thamiris V. Palacios-Kibler, DO, who is in private practice at the Asthma and Allergy Clinic in Portsmouth, Virginia, for some tips to help keep the skin calm.

Step up your skincare routine.

Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! Use a thick, oil-based cream or ointment as opposed to a water-based lotion. The more oil a product has, the better it prevents moisture loss. The soak-and-seal method is also a good way to combat dry skin.

Remember, dry air is your enemy. 

We love having the heater or fireplace on for warmth, but our skin and allergies don’t always appreciate the dry, smoky air. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier and keep your distance from direct heat sources and smoke.

As tempting as it is, avoid long, hot showers.

Spending too much time in a hot shower can strip skin of natural oils. Instead, opt for shorter lukewarm showers and baths. Skip harsh soaps with fragrances and use a gentle cleanser instead.

Be fabric-conscious when you bundle up. 

Keep wool, which can trigger itching in people with eczema, and synthetic clothes away from direct contact with skin. Consider wearing loose layers you can take off as you heat up. For clothes that come in direct contact with the skin, choose natural fabrics that are less likely to irritate, such as cotton, silk or cashmere.

Don’t put off calling your doctor.

If your skincare routine isn’t working, see your dermatologist before your eczema gets out of control. They can prescribe prescription topicals and medications that will help stop the itch and allow skin to heal.

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