Skin care tips for patients suffering from eczema during winter

We are now well into the depths of winter, and many people struggle to control their eczema with this cold and dry weather. Hopefully, with some tips and self-care, your eczema can be well managed and won’t be ruining this magical season for you!
1. Moisturize well!
Emollient use is key for managing eczema and for preventing flares! Moisturizing is even more important in the winter when our skin usually gets drier. Generally, emollients which are formulated for sensitive or eczematous skin are ideal. You should avoid scented or fragranced products, which can irritate your sensitive skin. Choosing a suitable emollient can take some time. In general, the greasier it is, the better it can keep moisture in your skin. Therefore, ointment is better than cream, and cream is better than lotion. This is particularly true during the winter when the air is drier. A good emollient is also one that you would use, you may want to try emollients with different textures and then find one that you like the most. At a minimum, you should be using a cream or ointment all over after showers/baths, and do the same for your hands each time after washing. However, the vast majority of people with eczema will require moisturizing 2-3 times per day to maintain optimal hydration. Please do not forget your lips which might benefit from Aquaphor Ointment or Vaseline ointment.
Examples of ointments: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Original (Blue Lid) or White Soft Paraffin, Aveeno Eczema Care Itchy Relief Balm, Avene Xeracalm AD Lipid Replenishing Baume, La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume AP+, Eucerin Original Aquaphor Ointment and Bioderma Atoderm PP Baume (This one feels like an lotion but contains oils), pure coconut butter or Shea butter.
Examples of creams: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, Cera Ve Mosturizing Cream, Aveeno Eczema Care Moisturizing Cream, Eucerin Original Cream
2. Use gentle cleansers and gloves
Common run-of-the-mill bar soaps, body washes or shower gels are generally not recommended for people with eczema as they can dry out and/or irritate your skin. A soap substitute (syndet) can be used instead. This rule also applies to your hands, especially if you have to wash your hand multiple times per day. Make sure you wear protective gloves when you are cleaning and washing dishes to protect your hands from detergents and other cleaning agents.
Examples of syndets: Spectro Cleanser for Dry Skin, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Cera Ve Hydrating Cleanser, Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash, Avene Xeracalm AD Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil, La Roche Posay Lipikar Syndet AP+
3. Prescription treatments
Unfortunately, prescription treatments will be necessary at times despite your best efforts. Flares can occur due to multiple factors including those outside of your control. Some people may have fear using topical corticosteroids, because of potential side-effects such as skin thinning.  However, not using an appropriate prescription medication for active eczema can prolong discomfort and lower your quality of life. In the long run, it can cause thickening and lines on the skin called lichenification due to constant scratching or rubbing, and or secondary infections. Topical corticosteroids have been used for many years and is safe when used appropriately. There are also alternatives to steroid creams, when necessary we may use these for areas with thinner skin such as the face and folds. If you are unsure, please talk to your skin care physician or dermatologist about your concerns, and they would be the best person to discuss and explain which options and prescription products are best and safest for your skin.
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