About Weather & Eczema Flare-Ups:
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammation of the skin that flares up from time to time. The condition generally begins in early childhood and severity of the disease can range from mild to severe. There is no cure for eczema, but treatment works to control or ease the symptoms. People suffering from atopic eczema are at a higher risk for developing other conditions such as hay fever and asthma. The cause of eczema is unknown. It is thought that genetic factors have a role to play in the condition as eczema occurs in nearly eight out of ten children whose parents also have the condition. Even the exact genetic cause of eczema remains unknown.
Weather changes is known to have a big impact on this condition. Any type of weather changes tends to cause an eczema flare-up in many people. Which weather makes it worse depends on the individual. On a general level, though, hot, cold, dry, and humid, weathers are known to wreak havoc on eczema flare-ups. Weather can affect your eczema directly and indirectly. A warm, windy day can cause pollen to blow into the air and your skin gets exposed to this, thus leading to an itchy flare-up. Often people find that the hot weather triggers prickly heat and leads to a frenzy of scratching. On the other hand, winter air is also equally harsh on your skin, drying it out and thus triggering a flare-up. Let us see how extreme weather conditions affects eczema in different ways, and how you can manage these flare-ups.
Managing Severe Eczema in Extreme Temperatures
When you have eczema, your skin fails to act as the barrier that it should. As the skin leaks moisture, it becomes dry and becomes more irritated by extreme weather, be it hot, cold, wind, humidity, etc. In hot and humid weather, people with eczema find that the heat triggers a frenzy of scratching and makes the skin feel prickly. . Sweating in the hot summer months also traps bacteria on the skin long with unwanted chemicals. On the other hand, the winter air is even harsher on the skin. During the winter season, humidity in the air that provides moisture goes down. This dry air then commonly results in dry skin, worsening eczema
However, just because you have eczema, it should not stop you from enjoying the various seasons round the year. You just need to be better prepared for each season and have a treatment plan in place for reducing the severity of your symptoms. In order to manage your eczema, the key is to notice and understand what type of weather causes a flare-up and brings on the scratching.
Managing Eczema in Hot and Humid Weather
Weather does not affect every person having eczema in the same way. For some, the warm, sunny, and humid weather can also come as a relief. While others find that this hot and humid weather triggers a prickly sensation on their skin, sweating aggravates their condition, and everything together leads to a frenzy of scratching.
While many people get irritated with sweating, it is important to know that sweating is actually your body’s natural defense mechanism against hot temperatures. Yet, for people suffering from eczema, sweating is nothing less than a curse as it worsens eczema. Sweat has trace amounts of minerals such as magnesium, lead, nickel, and sodium. It is these chemicals which actually irritate the skin. Furthermore, when the sweat collects in skin folds such as the inner part of your elbow or armpits, or the back of your knees, then due to the skin fold, the sweat is unable to dry well and thus causes skin irritation. Hot temperatures also trigger off the itching relax in most people, making the eczema flare-up much worse.
Here are some tips to managing in a hot and humid weather.
Don’t indulge in activities that make you very sweaty. Sweating is going to dry out your skin and the sodium (or salt) present in sweat is going to irritate and sting your skin. So try to stay cool and avoid activities that are going to get you very sweaty. On hot days it is a good idea to take it easy and stick to indoor activities as much as possible. Using a fan or remaining inside air conditioned places is also a good idea. You can also keep paper towels, a small washcloth, or some baby wipes in your bag. These are helpful for soaking up the excess sweat and keeping your skin dry. The neck, back of your knees, the inner part of your elbows, below the chest, etc., are areas you should pay particular attention to.
Wear loose and breathable clothes. You need to keep your skin cool by protecting against any kind of direct exposure to sunlight. So wear long sleeved clothes as much as possible. Avoid wool, nylon, rough linen, or any fabric that is bound to make your skin feel itchy. Cotton clothes are the best option to go with in the heat.
If you are going swimming, then prepare beforehand. One cannot stop doing all activities they love in order to prevent eczema flare-ups. You can go ahead with swimming, but with some preparation beforehand. The chlorine content in swimming pools or even the salt in saltwater is likely to irritate people with eczema. Therefore, it is a good idea to apply some form of lotion at least half an hour before you dive into the water. If you apply it just five minutes before entering the water, then the lotion is simply going to wash off. Therefore, allow some time for the lotion to get absorbed into the skin.
Increase those cool showers. It might be a good idea to increase the number of showers you take in the day. Once at the end of the day before retiring to bed is suggestible to not just soothe your skin, but to also wash away the chlorine, salt water, pollen, sweat, dust, and any other triggers that will potentially cause a flare-up later on. Gently pat yourself dry and apply some lotion immediately following your shower.
Be careful of what you put on your skin. It’s not just exposure to UV rays or sweating that might trigger your eczema. There are many chemicals in sunscreens and insect repellants that can also trigger your symptoms. Therefore, pay attention to the actual contents of these products. You should choose sunscreens that are capable of physically blocking the UV rays and which contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Also, test a small sample on your arm before applying it all over your body.
Figure out the hottest hours and stay indoors during that time. The sun’s rays tend to hit Earth directly and temperatures rise to the maximum usually between 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If possible you should avoid going outside during this time. You will also avoid getting sunburnt by avoiding these hours.
Remain well hydrated. The summer months causes your skin to lose moisture through sweating. In order to stay moisturized from the inside out, it is necessary that you drink plenty of fluids. While water is the best bet, you can also go for an electrolyte-containing sports drink. Stay away from the fizzy drinks or anything containing sugar.
Managing Eczema in Cold and Dry Weather
It is no secret that the winter air is harsh on your skin. These cold months dry out the skin and often cause an eczema flare-up. Here are some tips to help you manage your eczema flare-ups in the harsh winter months.
Get ready to lather on the moisturizer. This is not something we even need to mention as moisturizing with a lotion is something you should be daily, regardless of what the weather is like. This should ideally be done right after your bath. It is better that you apply a lotion that is recommended by your doctor. Moisturizing is particularly important on any body parts that remain exposed to the cold, such as your hands and your face. Lotion acts as an extra barrier for locking in the moisture and protecting your skin.
Do not use very hot water to take a shower. While no one can obviously take a shower with cold water, it is suggestible that you use lukewarm water while showering or taking a bath. Hot water is one of the triggers of eczema, particularly if you undergo quick temperature change. For example, if you are taking a walk outside in extremely cold weather and then you come inside and quickly pop into a hot shower, then this is likely to trigger a flare-up.
Avoid wearing itchy clothes. While those woolen sweaters sure do seem cozy, but they can actually act as a potential trigger for your eczema. While there might not be any way around avoiding woolens, but you can always protect your skin by wearing a cotton shirt under your woolen sweater. Also, wear cotton gloves under your woolen mittens/gloves.
Keep an eye out for indoor allergens. Most of us tend to remain cooped up inside during the cold frigid months. However, what we often miss is that we are surrounded by indoor allergens. Pet dander, dust mites, human hair, and many other factors can act as allergens that trigger of your eczema. In order to avoid having a flare-up, you must take the necessary steps to control these indoor allergens. You can keep pets out of your bedroom, especially off the bed; you can try to use dust mite-proof covers for pillows and the mattress; remove carpeting or make sure they are kept clean throughout the year; regularly wash the bed linen and blankets; etc.
Try not to get overheated even in the winters. You might think that bundling up in lots of woolen clothes is a good idea. However, when you are wearing so many layers, it might just cause you to overheat, without even realizing. Therefore, it is always a good idea to wear layers so that you can take them off and put them on again as required to keep you comfortable.
Avoid running a heater and opt for a humidifier instead. If you are used to running a heater inside, it is going to dry out your skin even further. Using a humidifier instead helps to add moisture to the air. However, make sure that you are cleaning and drying out your humidifier regularly. This prevents the buildup of fungus, bacteria, and mold, which are again likely triggers for an eczema flare-up.
However, if you feel that in spite of following all these tips, you are still unable to manage your eczema, it might be time to pay a visit to your dermatologist. Your doctor is ultimately the best person to guide you on what is the exact cause behind your flare-up and also prescribe more powerful remedies such as antihistamines and corticosteroid creams. Always remember to consult your doctor before you opt for trying out any home remedies for curing your eczema.
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