Skin Care Guidelines
The low humidity
common in many parts of the United States during winter can cause
dry, irritated skin. When skin becomes dry and irritated, eczema can
flare. Here are some tips to help skin feel more comfortable during
winter or anytime the air is dry:
With the heat on and the windows closed, the air inside can become
very dry in the winter, making the dryness and itching of eczema
even worse. Use a humidifier to place moisture in the air. If you
don’t want to invest in an expensive humidifying system, smaller,
relatively inexpensive humidifiers can be obtained at a local drug
store. Placing two or three of these around your home will help to
humidify the dry air. This can keep skin from drying and becoming
cracked and itchy.
to an oil-based moisturizer and moisturize frequently.
The more oil a moisturizer contains the more effectively it protects
against moisture loss. Moisturizers that come in ointment form
contain the most oil because an ointment, by definition, consists of
80% oil and 20% water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective
layer on the skin and makes it more “moisturizing” than creams and
lotions. 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.
Outside in Winter:
Apply a heavy
layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30
or higher to the face, hands, and any other skin that may be
This will act as a barrier to help protect against the harsh
elements and is especially important if you will be outside for
any length of time. Sunscreen is important in winter as the sun’s
reflective powers are great year round - 17% on the sand and 80% on
the snow. Today, several products are available that combine oily,
moisturizing cream with sunscreen.
If you are unsure of which product to use, ask a dermatologist.
Protecting hands from the cold air and low humidity plays an
important role in preventing flare-ups. Make sure the gloves are
made from material that does not irritate your skin. Some patients
find that wearing a cotton mitten next to the skin and a woolen
mitten over the cotton one, keeps hands warm and dry.
The most common
triggers of the scratch/itch cycle are sweating and overheating.
Wearing layers allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent
overheating. Be sure to wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics next to
clothes and shoes immediately.
These can irritate the skin and cause a flare-up.
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developed by the American Academy of Dermatology