Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition, characterised by dry, itchy and red patchy skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but is most commonly found on the bends of the arms and backs of knees.
Causes of eczema may be due to various factors such as genetics, environmental irritants or immune responses.
Our skin is an important barrier which protects our body’s internal organs and systems safe from external harmful elements. However, for those with eczema, the natural protective barrier is impaired. This causes the skin to break down and lose moisture, leading to inflamed, cracked and dry skin.
Why does it get worse in Winter?
During Winter, not only does the temperature decrease, the humidity in the air is also lower. Our skin is very sensitive to the changes in our surroundings, which means it is constantly adjusting to the dry, cold and warm environments with our daily indoor and outdoor chores, hot showers and blazing heaters. This causes more evaporation of moisture from the skin, leaving it dry, flaky and itchy. Therefore, it is important for someone with eczema to be prepared for the cold season.
Here are ways to make Winter a more enjoyable and comfortable time:
1. Short, warm showers – Avoid taking very hot baths as it causes the skin to dry out. Try to shower less frequently and keep it to 10 minutes or less. Always use gentle soap for showering. Products such as bath oils or oatmeal-based moisturising products can be added to baths to help lock in moisture. After showering, do not rub the skin with towels; just pat dry to avoid irritating the skin.
2. Use oil-based moisturisers – Thicker moisturisers are able to seal the skin better than lotions when humidity is low. Moisturising as frequently as possible (2-3 times a day) and within three minutes of a bath or shower will help replenish the oils and moisture stripped from our skin during a shower.
3. Get a humidifier – With a humidifier, moisture is added into the dry winter air which irritates eczema-prone skin. Be sure to constantly change the water in the humidifier to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing.
4. Apply sunscreen – Do not skip sunscreen just because the temperature is low. Even on a cloudy day, UV rays can damage our skin. Use a moisturising, broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 and above.
5. Drink plenty of water – Hydrate by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day to help moisturise the skin. Thankfully, all our favourite warm winter beverages such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate are inclusive.
Speak to our friendly National Pharmacies staff if you need product assistance and advice to treat your eczema this Winter!
Mandy Koay, Pharmacist In Charge, National Pharmacies Norwood
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