Whether very hot or very cold, extreme temperatures can affect eczema.
During the winter months, humidity that provides moisture in the air decreases. The dry air often results in dry skin, which can worsen eczema.
Hot temperatures can also aggravate eczema. The heat can stimulate that itchy, prickly feeling those with eczema know all too well. It can also cause sweating, which may lure bacteria and unwanted chemicals to your skin.
Having eczema doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cold winter night or a hot summer day. But you should be prepared for either extreme with a treatment plan that lessens unwanted symptoms.
Treatments for cold weather changes
Low humidity, winds, and cold temperatures can rob your skin of moisture. You may need to change up your moisturizing strategy when it gets cold outside.
Consider a humidifier
Running a heater indoors can dry out your skin. A humidifier adds moisture back into the air by using water and warm temperatures.
It’s important to clean and dry your humidifier regularly. This will prevent the buildup of mold, which can be very irritating to your lungs and potentially damage your 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 to prevent moisture loss and protect your hands.
Although wool gloves are a popular choice, they can irritate your skin. Try for a leather pair instead. (Even better if the gloves have a breathable cotton lining.)
You’ll want to make sure you take off any protective or exposed clothing items when you’re through being outside. Wet, snow-soaked clothes can make dry skin worse. When you do change clothes, make sure to moisturize after.
Switch up 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 will be worth the extra few minutes.
You’ll also want to simplify your shower routine as much as possible to prevent moisture loss in the shower.
Remember that you can get sunburned in the winter. Using products with SPF can help to cut down on irritation and redness from the sun due to exposure in the winter.
Treatments for warm weather changes
Sweating is the body’s natural defense mechanism against warm temperatures. Yet it can worsen eczema. Sweat contains trace amounts of many minerals, including sodium, magnesium, lead, and nickel. These chemicals can sometimes be irritating to the skin.
Sweat that collects in skin folds, such as your armpits or inner part of your elbow, doesn’t dry well and can lead to skin irritation. Also, hot temperatures trigger itch reflexes in the skin, making an eczema-related itch worse.
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 going outdoors during this time. As a bonus, you’re less likely to get a sunburn by avoiding the sun at its peak.
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 special 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 going for a swim in a pool or the ocean, wash up with a gentle soap, towel dry, and apply moisture to your body. Doing so can help reduce the amount of chemicals on your skin and keep 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, you’ll want to look for clothing that is lightweight and breathable, such as cotton and cotton blends. Refraining from wearing tight-fitting clothing can also help.
Sweating causes your skin to lose moisture. To keep your skin moisturized from the inside out, drink plenty of cold fluids. Water is typically your best bet. You may also opt for an electrolyte-containing sports drink if you take part in a vigorous physical activity outdoors for an hour or more.