Thursday, 15 November 2018

Eczema: How to Handle Winter Flare-Ups

For some patients, this time of year can be particularly challenging for their skin. Dry, tight and rough skin is a common occurrence during winter, but is normally easily resolved with some TLC. However, some inflammatory skin conditions can exacerbate during the cold snap and become unbearable.

Eczema is a skin condition that causes red, inflamed and dry patches often seen on the limbs but can also be found on the torso and even the face. It's not unusual for it to develop in early childhood but it can also onset later in life.

Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by a number of factors, particularly seasonal changes. In winter, the air is drier and indoor heating systems only add to the problem. Eczema flares up when the skin is unable to moisturise itself, which explains why December can be particularly challenging.

How to prevent your flare-ups

Avoid hot baths

Skin is happy in a tepid environment, so both room and water temperatures should be kept mild. Unfortunately this means no long hot soaks in the bath after work, stick to showers, which are are more suitable for eczema sufferers. However, if you only have access to a bath keep it short, sweet and lukewarm.

Bump up the Vitamin D

Taking Vitamin D has been proven to improve eczema flare-ups. This may explain why patients see improvements when on holiday or after using sunbeds. The use of sunbeds is strongly discouraged due to the carcinogenic risks and apparent damage to the skin. Taking an oral Vitamin D supplement, such as Heliocare Ultra D Oral Supplements Capsules, will help to boost your levels, improving mood and energy.

Say no to soap

Soap alters skin's pH levels and can damage the skin's protective barrier. This barrier, known as the acid mantle, is made up of oil and water and is designed to lock-in moisture whilst keeping bad bacteria out. If this barrier becomes impaired, the skin will become particularly sensitive and irritated. Eczema skins are generally sensitised to perfumes, soaps, chemicals and strong detergents.

Using a mild body wash or just plain water will help the skin maintain its natural barrier function.

Avoid the woolly jumpers

We love a Christmas jumper as much as anyone but when dealing with eczema, some fibres such as wool and nylon will irritate and aggravate the skin. Instead stick to cool, light and breathable materials. The same applies to bedtime; avoid heated blankets and thick winter duvets as they can increase the body temperature whilst sleeping, which in turn can cause itching. Increased itching can lead to scratching the skin in the night, which can cause open wounds and permanent scarring.

Learn your emollients

Thick heavy moisturisers are often used to relieve the symptoms of eczema and whilst these may work short term, they are only a temporary fix. Not all creams are made equal and it's important to learn your ingredients and discover what does and doesn't work for you. Often for eczema sufferers, barrier creams are a better option and act as a replica of the skins acid mantle (as previously mentioned) to keep the skin protected underneath.

For product recommendations, speak to your clinician. If you want to know more about how to manage skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, book a FREE consultation with our expert clinicians by calling 0113 282 3300 or book online.

Written for you by: Emily, Face the Future

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