Many things can trigger an eczema flare-up, and extreme temperatures are high on the list. Both clinical and at-home treatments can help manage symptoms.

Eczema, sometimes called atopic dermatitis, presents with patches or areas of skin that become dry, itchy, discolored, and inflamed. Eczema is one of the most common inflammatory skin conditions in children, although adults can also develop eczema.

Seasons with harsh weather can trigger symptoms and develop into seasonal eczema. It’s not uncommon during weather changes like cold winter winds and high summer temperatures to cause eczema flare-ups.

Below, we look at why eczema symptoms may flare up more during certain seasons and share resources for both at-home and clinical treatments for seasonal eczema.

Eczema is a chronic (long-term) condition that cycles through periods of remission and flare-ups. When someone’s eczema is in remission, symptoms are minimal, while flare-ups are periods when symptoms worsen significantly.

Often, there’s a clear trigger for eczema flare-ups — a specific “thing” that causes your symptoms to reappear. Some of the common eczema triggers include:

While “seasonal eczema” itself isn’t a condition, temperature changes during different seasons are one of the most commonly reported triggers. In one study, roughly 51.9% of participants reported cold weather as a trigger, while 30.2% reported warm weather being a trigger.

One of the reasons for this is the effect temperature and humidity changes can have on your skin, especially if you have eczema.

During winter, cold temperatures and harsh winds can make the skin lose moisture and cause it to become dry, triggering a cascade of symptoms. During summer, sunlight, sweat, and outdoor allergens on your skin can also lead to itching, irritation, and other symptoms.

Another possible reason may be the way that weather can affect the skin on a cellular level. According to research, both low and high temperatures may increase inflammatory compounds that can trigger symptoms like itch and inflammation in eczema.

Everyone has different eczema flare-ups — especially when it comes to weather. Some people may notice that their symptoms worsen in winter and summer, while others notice more symptoms in spring and fall.

However, research suggests that the low temperatures in winter and high temperatures during summer seem to affect eczema symptoms the most.

One recent study published in 2023 explored the effects of ambient temperature changes on atopic dermatitis symptoms.

According to the 2023 study, involving over 10,700 people with eczema, roughly 25.4% of people’s eczema was related to temperature. While both high and low temperatures played a role, visits increased by a staggering 160% when the temperature dropped below 0 °C.

Another study from 2023 found similar results, with participants reporting flare-ups during both cold and hot weather. However, in this study, the researchers found that warm weather caused fewer flare-ups than cold weather.

Did you know?

There’s some truth in the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Your diet can affect your overall health, including your eczema symptoms. Check out the articles below to learn how to manage your eczema with your diet:

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Eczema symptoms can appear differently from person to person. Different types of eczema can cause different symptoms. Common symptoms that you might notice during an eczema flare-up may include:

  • dry, itchy skin
  • cracked or scaly skin
  • discolored patches of skin
  • hyper or hypopigmentation (darker or lighter skin)
  • thick patches of skin
  • raised bumps on the skin
  • sores that ooze or crust

If you’ve noticed any new changes to your skin, such as dry, itchy, cracked, or inflamed patches or rashes, it’s important to reach out to your doctor. People with darker skin tones may find it difficult to see the symptoms of eczema.

It may also be helpful to seek out a dermatologist who can plan more specialized care for your symptoms. Learn more about dermatologists here.

Seasonal eczema can affect any area of your body, but some of the places where eczema most commonly appears include:

  • arms and crooks of the elbows
  • legs and backs of the knees
  • cheeks, face, or back of the neck
  • scalp, in seborrheic dermatitis
  • fingers and palms, in dyshidrotic eczema
  • toes and soles, in dyshidrotic eczema

Weather may also play a role in the areas of the skin affected by seasonal eczema, especially depending on the type of weather.

For example, eczema symptoms in winter may appear on areas of the skin that don’t get as much protection, like the cheeks and eyelids. Or eczema symptoms in the summer might develop in areas with more sweat or sunlight, like the armpits or back of the neck.

Eczema is a chronic condition, which means that there’s no cure. However, treatment can help people with the condition manage their symptoms and limit flare-ups.

If you’re interested in learning more about the treatment for eczema, we’ve created a Complete Guide to Eczema Treatment that can help. Here are also a few more of our top resources for you to check out:

For many people with eczema, extreme hot or cold temperatures can cause symptoms to flare up. Cold weather during winter is a common trigger for seasonal eczema, although warm summer temperatures can also cause symptoms to worsen for some people.

If you’ve noticed that your eczema symptoms worsen during certain seasons, treatment can help you manage your symptoms and prevent future flare-ups.