WELLBEING

Preventing Eczema Flareups in Winter

By Lisa Kelly

Posted  June 27 2017 | 0 Shares

SHARE / LIKE

While winter in Australia isn’t nearly as harsh as winter in, say, the northern continents, it’s still much colder and dryer than any other season. For most children, it means lots of fun times cosying up under blankets with warm drinks. For others, it means a months-long struggle preventing eczema flareups.

What causes eczema flareups?

There’s never a simple answer to this question, because there are so many factors, and it’s always different from person to person.

If you have a child who suffers from eczema, or if you’re a sufferer yourself, you’re familiar with the dry, red, extremely itchy patches of skin. They often appear on the elbows, knees, and ankles, although they can show up anywhere on the body.

While eczema itself is essentially benign, it does cause the affected area to be more fragile, and thus more susceptible to infections. To make matters worse, the extreme itchiness leads to more scratching, which all but ensures raw, open wounds.

Overheating, sweating, certain foods, fabrics, stress, dry air, and too much humidity can all trigger eczema flareups. Sometimes, there’s no trigger you can pinpoint. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also no cure. All we can really do is avoid all the known triggers, keep our kids well nourished, and put out the flames when the monster does rear its ugly head.

Read: Treat asthma, eczema, and allergies through gut health

How to prevent eczema flareups during winter

Dry skin is brittle and easily damaged, so staying moisturised should be one of the cornerstones of your child’s eczema care regimen. Avoid harsh, highly perfumed soap — they strip away skin’s natural moisture.

Use glycerin soap instead. Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture. Most glycerin soaps can also be completely natural — just make sure to read labels to see if the manufacturers added anything synthetic (which isn’t all bad).

You may also want to look into wet skin moisturisers. These are like lotion but, as the name implies, they are best applied before toweling off. After a warm shower, your skin’s pores are open. Couple that with the water still clinging to you, most of which the moisturisers should lock in. Gently but thoroughly rub it into wet skin for a few minutes, let it stand, then gently pat off excess moisture.

When picking out lotions, choose ones that are thicker and unscented. Perfumes can often irritate delicate skin, and thicker solutions have a longer-staying effect than thin ones.

While the best time to apply moisturisers is while skin is still damp, it’s good to remember that showering or bathing too long can actually dry out skin. Keep cleaning rituals only as long as necessary, and only once a day if possible. In fact, since there’s less sweating during the colder seasons, you may be able to skip a shower every few days.

You’ll also want to avoid wool and synthetic fabrics, and instead stick to cotton, especially the clothes that are right next to the skin. Thin layers are also a good idea, since weather is so variable.

Read: Treating eczema naturally

Treating eczema flareups

Sadly and frustratingly, there’s no cure for eczema, but there are plenty of things you can do to minimise discomfort and help your child’s skin calm down faster.

Ask your GP or dermatologist about the best anti-inflammatory or topical corticosteroids you can use. She may also recommend using an antihistamine for a few days to minimize the itching.

Wet dressings can also be a huge help. Start with a generous smear of greasy moisturising ointment over the affected area. Cover with a wet towel or bandage for 15-30 minutes, and reapply several times throughout the day.

Adding vinegar, salt, oatmeal or baking powder to your child’s bath water can also help calm the skin.

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 27 June 2017 references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • document id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

latest articles

view all

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED - MEET THE EXPERTS VIEW ALL

Preventing Eczema Flareups in Winter

WELLBEING

While winter in Australia isn’t nearly as harsh as winter in, say, the northern continents, it’s still much colder and dryer than any other season. For most children, it means lots of fun times cosying up under blankets with warm drinks. For others, it means a months-long struggle preventing eczema flareups.

What causes eczema flareups?

There’s never a simple answer to this question, because there are so many factors, and it’s always different from person to person.

If you have a child who suffers from eczema, or if you’re a sufferer yourself, you’re familiar with the dry, red, extremely itchy patches of skin. They often appear on the elbows, knees, and ankles, although they can show up anywhere on the body.

While eczema itself is essentially benign, it does cause the affected area to be more fragile, and thus more susceptible to infections. To make matters worse, the extreme itchiness leads to more scratching, which all but ensures raw, open wounds.

Overheating, sweating, certain foods, fabrics, stress, dry air, and too much humidity can all trigger eczema flareups. Sometimes, there’s no trigger you can pinpoint. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also no cure. All we can really do is avoid all the known triggers, keep our kids well nourished, and put out the flames when the monster does rear its ugly head.

Read: Treat asthma, eczema, and allergies through gut health

How to prevent eczema flareups during winter

Dry skin is brittle and easily damaged, so staying moisturised should be one of the cornerstones of your child’s eczema care regimen. Avoid harsh, highly perfumed soap — they strip away skin’s natural moisture.

Use glycerin soap instead. Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture. Most glycerin soaps can also be completely natural — just make sure to read labels to see if the manufacturers added anything synthetic (which isn’t all bad).

You may also want to look into wet skin moisturisers. These are like lotion but, as the name implies, they are best applied before toweling off. After a warm shower, your skin’s pores are open. Couple that with the water still clinging to you, most of which the moisturisers should lock in. Gently but thoroughly rub it into wet skin for a few minutes, let it stand, then gently pat off excess moisture.

When picking out lotions, choose ones that are thicker and unscented. Perfumes can often irritate delicate skin, and thicker solutions have a longer-staying effect than thin ones.

While the best time to apply moisturisers is while skin is still damp, it’s good to remember that showering or bathing too long can actually dry out skin. Keep cleaning rituals only as long as necessary, and only once a day if possible. In fact, since there’s less sweating during the colder seasons, you may be able to skip a shower every few days.

You’ll also want to avoid wool and synthetic fabrics, and instead stick to cotton, especially the clothes that are right next to the skin. Thin layers are also a good idea, since weather is so variable.

Read: Treating eczema naturally

Treating eczema flareups

Sadly and frustratingly, there’s no cure for eczema, but there are plenty of things you can do to minimise discomfort and help your child’s skin calm down faster.

Ask your GP or dermatologist about the best anti-inflammatory or topical corticosteroids you can use. She may also recommend using an antihistamine for a few days to minimize the itching.

Wet dressings can also be a huge help. Start with a generous smear of greasy moisturising ointment over the affected area. Cover with a wet towel or bandage for 15-30 minutes, and reapply several times throughout the day.

Adding vinegar, salt, oatmeal or baking powder to your child’s bath water can also help calm the skin.

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 27 June 2017
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

more articles by Lisa Kelly

view more

latest articles

view more

MEET THE EXPERTS

view more