The rashes and dry skin associated with eczema are a product of the right combination of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, according to the NHS. Sixty percent of children will develop eczema if one parent has it, and that figure jumps to 80 percent if both parents are sufferers.
The triggers that activate this chronic condition are food and airborne allergens, sensitivity to substances like perfume and cigarette smoke, hormonal changes, stress and the onset of winter weather.
Why Does Winter Trigger Eczema?
There are three main reasons why people tend to experience more eczema symptoms when the weather turns cold.
- The extreme cold ushers in dry air — both outside and in — and this dryness may trigger an eczema rash flare.
- High wind exacerbates the dryness, wicking heat and moisture away from exposed skin.
- Radical fluctuations in temperature between outside and inside cause the skin to have to adapt quickly several times in the course of the day.
Because the transition between the seasons either tends to be abrupt or to zigzag unpredictably, one may develop dry itchy patches on skin at the beginning of the winter that become very hard to get under control as the season progresses.
Simple Fixes to Curb Winter Eczema1. Increase the humidity inside your home during the winter months. Use a humidifier in your bedroom to make sure your skin is not exposed to dry conditions overnight.
2. Cover the areas most susceptible to eczema — knees, elbows, and the neck — when you are outside in cold weather. Always wear gloves. Use sunscreen for areas like the face, that have to remain exposed.
3. Make sure to moisturize several times daily, especially when you have dry skin rashes. This is probably the MOST important step!
4. Avoid overheating by wearing clothes that will cause you to sweat indoors. Dress in layers that you can remove as needed; natural and breathable fibers are the gentlest against rash-prone skin.
5. Avoid wood-burning fires during a symptom flare, as both the smoke and dryness may aggravate your symptoms.
Lifestyle Fixes for the Winter Season
People associate allergies with tree pollen and the hayfever season. But the truth is that pet dander, mold and dust mites, are year round allergens that may intensify during the cold weather because you spend so much more of your time indoors.
The onset of the winter season is a great time to allergy proof your house. Make sure that your pets are bathed to reduce dander and install dust mite proof covers on your mattress and pillowcases. Invest in a HEPA filter to purify the air. Consider having allergy testing done in an attempt to pinpoint indoor triggers.
In addition to making changes to your indoor environment, you might also attempt an elimination diet to see if there is an underlying food allergy that aggravates your eczema symptoms. Many people, including The National Eczema Association, claim that dairy, wheat and certain other foods are especially irritating, and still others feel that becoming vegan has helped them to combat their eczema flares.
Winter is also a great time to reassess your exercise regime. Yoga is a great indoor exercise with stress-reducing benefits that may help to reduce one of the underlying causes of this chronic skin condition.