Top tips for surviving winter with eczema

(NC) As tough as winter may be on most of us, it can be especially difficult for people suffering from eczema; a chronic itchy non-contagious skin condition. Between the dry air, added clothing and the harsh temperatures, flare-ups can become more frequent, requiring extra care and attention for sensitive skin. Here are some important winter eczema tips for braving the elements.

Keep covered. Always wear non-woolen gloves or mittens before going outdoors, even if it is to go and grab something quick. Eczema-prone skin needs protection, so getting out your turtlenecks, scarves, hats and whatever else is needed to reduce skin's exposure to the cold will not only keep you warm and toasty, but will also help minimize irritation.

Be sun safe year-round. Even though the winter sun is less intense, the risk of UV rays still remains, especially on those bitter cold sunny days. Add the potential for windburn, and without preventative measures, skin can take a real beating, especially sensitive areas such as the nose, cheeks, lips and ears. Make sure your daily routine includes applying a mineral-based sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and check the label for any ingredients that cause skin sensitivities.

Stay dry. Whether you're hitting the slopes or shoveling snow, if gloves, hats, socks or other winter gear get wet, remove them as soon as possible. Cold, damp clothes and sweating can irritate sensitive skin leading to eczema flare-ups. Keep spare gear on hand and layer for added warmth and protection. Choose soft fabrics or cotton clothing, making sure to wash new items before wearing to remove any excess dyes or chemicals.

Warm up right. As nice as it may be to sit in front of a crackling fireplace after coming in from the cold, the heat and smoke can be drying to the skin. The same goes for hot showers or baths, which may be extremely tough on sensitive eczema skin. Use warm water, limit tub time to five or ten minutes, make sure cleansers are mild and fragrance-free, and remember to moisturize towel-dried damp skin to seal in moisture.

“With the dry winter months ahead, initiatives such as November's Eczema Awareness Month will hopefully encourage people to take control of their condition, put the right treatment routine in place and promote overall well-being,” says Dr. Danielle Marcoux, a Quebec-based pediatric dermatologist. “Your dermatologist is best equipped to diagnose and recommend the proper medical treatment, including non-steroidal options like tacrolimus ointment, and support your progress. Although there is no cure, eczema can be effectively managed.”

For more information speak to your doctor and visit www.eczemacanada.ca.

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