For the six million people in the UK who suffer from eczema, the sudden change of temperature this winter will bring much more irritation, pain and discomfort.
Keeping skin moisturised when the wind is harsh, the air is dryer and the heating is on is even more difficult than usual, and these elements are well known to trigger the itchiness, inflammation and raw, red skin that characterises eczema.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that affects the surface of the skin and causes abnormalities in allergy and inflammatory properties. Sufferers’ skin produces fewer fats and oils, which means they are more vulnerable to irritants and bacteria.
If you suffer from eczema, we have some tips to help you get through the colder months as smoothly as possible:
Margaret Cox, CEO of the National Eczema Society recommends shaking up your moisturising regimen during the colder months to keep your eczema under control.
“Consider how you’re using your medical moisturisers and emollients,” she says. “It may be that during the winter months if your skin is drying more you either need to use something heavy duty or possibly to moisturise more frequently.”
Moisturising your skin around three times a day can be really helpful, and you should be careful to use greasy, non-perfumed moisturisers. It may also be worthwhile washing with a moisturising wash rather than soap and/or shower gels to prevent chemicals found in these products from drying out the skin. Bubble baths and detergents should also be used less frequently.
Winter bugs and viruses can impact eczema symptoms – making them worse and harder to manage. Make an extra effort to stay fit and well during the colder months, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables to keep your immune system strong and getting lots of exercise.
The skin barrier plays an important role in controlling body temperature, which means eczema sufferers may find it difficult to cool down or warm up. Margaret explains: “People with eczema suffer from being too hot and when you get too hot, you itch and you scratch.”
Make sure you dress in comfortable clothes made of natural materials such as cotton which lets your skin breathe and avoid wearing wool close to the skin.
Try complementary therapies
Many eczema patients turn to complementary therapies and more natural healing methods in addition to medical treatment. While research into the effectiveness of complementary therapy for eczema relief is minimal, there are popular treatments sufferers will turn to time and time again to address underlying imbalances in the body which are thought to trigger eczema. These include acupuncture and herbal medicine which can help to ease stress and boost health and well-being.