Ask the Allergist
How Can I Avoid Eczema Flares During Cold Weather?
Eczema is a dry, scaly, and itchy skin rash, which can happen sometimes or chronically. Common types of eczema include atopic dermatitis, irritant dermatitis, and allergic contact dermatitis. There are many triggers for eczema including:
- Soaps and cleaners
Cold air, wind, and a decrease in humidity can all dry out the skin and make eczema worse. As the skin dries out, the protective skin barrier can be decreased. This can make the skin rashes worse.
There are many things that you can do to treat and reduce your eczema skin rash that flares up in cold weather.
- Use a humidifier to help maintain optimal humidity levels in the home to prevent dryness of the skin.
- Over-the-counter moisturizers and skin barriers help to moisturize your dry skin. They also prevent the loss of water from the skin. Examples include Vaseline, Vanicream, or Aquaphor.
- Sleeping with moistened gauze over the affected areas also helps dry skin. This is known as "soak and seal" or "wet-wrapping."
- Over-the-counter medicines and products like topical hydrocortisone can reduce inflammation associated with eczema.
John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.