How to help your skin in winter
Brrr - the nights are drawing in and the heating is going on.
But what do the changes in the weather mean for people living with eczema?
Despite heat often being cited as a cause of eczema, the onset of cooler temperatures does not often bring relief to sensitive skin sufferers. In fact, changes in temperature – hot to cold or vice versa - are a common trigger. In addition, the need to keep warm artificially, through heating and additional clothing often leads to eczema flare ups.
Artificial heat dries out the air and our skin. Dry skin tends to itch and so the itch-scratch cycle begins. So how can you help minimise these effects and keep your skin and the air around it more hydrated whilst trying to stay warm?
When you have the heating on
- Keep it at a relatively low and steady temperature e.g.18-19 degrees Celsius
- Don’t get too close to the source of heat (keep beds away from radiators)
- Use a humidifier to keep moisture in the air or just a bowl of water near the heat source can help offset its drying effect.
If you’re spending more time inside (likely in winter)
- Let some fresh air in regularly, even if it seems cold. This will help reduce dust mites (who thrive in warm stale spaces) and mould. Both eczema triggers.
- Vacuum or dust with a damp cloth regularly to remove dust as this is a common trigger for skin and respiratory issues.
The cold also makes us reach for clothes that best retain body warmth, which are often made of wool. The majority of wool garments have rough fibres which can aggravate angry skin and are often so effective at heat retention that they don’t let enough air circulate and can dry it out. Instead, eczema sufferers should wear several thin layers made from breathable materials such as cotton, silk or tencel, and adjust these layer by layer depending on the temperature. This is especially important for items that are in direct contact with your skin – underwear, nightwear and socks.
Look out for skin friendly hats, scarves and gloves as well or if you have some favourites in itchy fabrics then wear thin cotton gloves or a beanie underneath. Check out our outdoor winter accessories range here.
A hot bath is very tempting in winter, but a dramatic change in temperature will likely trigger a skin flare so have warm not hot baths or showers and if possible also keep the bathroom warm so that there isn’t a dramatic change in temperature when you get in and out of the bath or shower. You may need to use more emollient than usual and reapply it more often during winter.
Keeping well-hydrated is crucial – skin needs moisture from the inside as well. So try to drink more water than usual and look after your general health. Colds and winter bugs can exacerbate eczema, so be thoughtful about your body, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest and maintain good hand hygiene, especially in busy areas and on public transport.
Treat yourself to some natural products that you trust (perhaps give our Eczema Sample store box a try) – and whatever you choose, make sure you do a test patch and give your skin time to adjust to any new regime.
Ultimately just try to enjoy any cool, crisp weather, take whatever sunshine you can find and snuggle-up with your loved ones.
If you have any cold weather tips and tricks, we'd love to hear from you!
With best autumnal wishes from the team at Eczema Clothing