The low humidity common in many parts of the United States during winter can cause dry, irritated skin — and then eczema can ﬂare up.
Here are some tips to help skin remain hydrated during winter or anytime the air is dry:
- Use a humidiﬁer to place moisture in the air. This can keep skin from drying and becoming cracked and itchy. A less expensive alternative to a humidiﬁer is placing a bowl of water in each room (this can also breed bacteria, so be sure to empty, clean, and reﬁll any bowls of water daily).
- Switch to an oil-based moisturizer and moisturize frequently. The more oil a moisturizer contains the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Ointments are especially beneﬁcial when humidity is low. Ointments should not be used on areas of the body that tend to get hot and sweaty.
- Before going outside, apply a heavy layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to the face, hands, and any other skin that may be exposed. Sunscreen is important in winter because the sun’s reﬂective powers are great year round. To-day, several products are available that combine oily, moisturizing cream with sunscreen.
- Dress in layers. The most common triggers of the itch/scratch cycle are sweating and overheating. Wearing layers allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating.
- Grab those gloves. Protecting hands from cold air and low humidity plays an important role in preventing ﬂare-ups. Make sure that gloves are made from material that does not irritate your skin. Some patients wear a cotton glove next to the skin and a glove of different fabric over the cotton one.
- Shed wet clothes and shoes immediately. These can irritate the skin and cause a ﬂare-up.