Whether very hot or very cold, extreme temperatures can affect eczema.
Hot temperatures can aggravate eczema. The heat can stimulate an itchy, prickly feeling. It can also cause sweating, which may lure bacteria and unwanted chemicals to your skin.
During the winter months, humidity that provides moisture in the air decreases. The dry air often results in dry skin, which can worsen eczema.
Having eczema doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a hot summer day or a cold winter night. But you should be prepared for either extreme with a treatment plan that lessens unwanted symptoms.
Sweating is the body’s natural defense mechanism against warm temperatures. However, it can worsen eczema.
Sweat contains trace amounts of many minerals, including sodium, magnesium, lead, and nickel. These chemicals can sometimes irritate the skin.
Sweat that collects in skin folds, such as your armpits or the inner part of your elbow, doesn’t dry well and can lead to skin irritation.
Also, hot temperatures tend to trigger itch reflexes in the skin, worsening an eczema-related itch.
Watch the clock
The sun’s rays are most direct (and temperatures tend to be hottest) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If possible, avoid spending too much time outdoors during these hours. Doing so also helps you avoid getting a sunburn.
You may wish to add some folded-up paper towels, washcloths, or soft paper wipes to your summer bag. You can use these to soak up excess sweat and keep your skin dry and free from the chemicals your sweat contains.
Pay attention to common areas of perspiration, such as your neck, below your chest, the backs of your knees, and the inner part of your elbows.
Shower after a swim
After swimming in a pool or the ocean, wash with a gentle soap, towel dry, and apply moisturizer to your body. Doing so can help reduce the amount of chemicals on your skin and seal in moisture.
Wear the right gear
Wearing the right clothing is as smart an idea in warm temperatures as it is in cold.
In the summer, look for lightweight and breathable clothing. Clothing made from cotton or linen is typically best, but some cotton blends are OK too.
Refraining from wearing tight-fitting clothing can also help minimize skin irritations and flare-ups.
Sweating causes your skin to lose moisture. To keep your skin moisturized from the inside out, drink plenty of fluids. Make sure you’re staying hydrated with water. Avoid or limit sugary sodas and juices, which aren’t as hydrating.
You may also opt for an electrolyte-containing sports drink, especially if you’re exercising or doing a lot of physical activities.
Low humidity, winds, and cold temperatures can rob your skin of moisture. You may need to change your moisturizing strategy when it gets cold outside.
Consider using a humidifier
Running a heater indoors can dry out your skin. A humidifier adds moisture back into the air. Since humid air acts as a natural moisturizing agent, a humidifier can relieve dryness and symptoms related to eczema.
It’s important to clean and dry your humidifier regularly. It prevents the buildup of mold, which can irritate the lungs and potentially damage skin.
Wear the proper gear
The hands, a particularly sensitive area for many people with eczema, are frequently exposed to the elements. Wearing gloves can help prevent moisture loss and protect your hands.
Although wool gloves are a popular choice (and often more affordable than leather), they can irritate skin. If you are able, purchase a pair of high quality leather gloves with a breathable cotton lining.
Once you’re back inside from the cold, be careful to remove any wet, snow-soaked clothing. These items can make dry skin worse.
Even if you’re not bathing immediately, apply moisturizer before changing into dry clothing.
Switch your moisturizer
Change your skin care routine from winter to summer to accommodate different environmental factors.
In the winter, use a thick, soothing cream to retain moisture. Think ointments and creams versus lotions.
You can apply petroleum jelly to very dry, cracked areas that need extra protection. You may have to allow extra time for the ointment or cream to soak in, but it’s worth the extra few minutes.
You can also simplify your shower routine as much as possible to prevent moisture loss in the shower.
Remember, you can get sunburned in the winter, too. Using products with SPF can help cut down on irritation and redness from the sun due to exposure in the winter.
Changes in temperature, especially extreme ones, can affect the skin. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy both blazing hot summer days and cold winter ones, but it’s important to be prepared to minimize eczema flare-ups.
Your summer skin care routine for managing eczema shouldn’t be the same as your winter skin care routine.
Following a few helpful tips each season can help you manage your eczema and avoid itchy, dry skin.