Winter is harsh in many parts of Australia, and the cold temperatures, icy winds and indoor heating can wreak havoc on hair, skin and complexions. Winter conditions can also aggravate one skin condition in particular: eczema.
One-third of Australians are affected by eczema at some stage in their life, making Australia one of the highest incidences of eczema in the world. According to Cheryl Talent, President of the Eczema Association of Australasia, the winter months are a big challenge for most eczema sufferers. The humidity drops and the air gets really dry, leading to frustratingly itchy flare-ups. These are Cheryl’s top tips for managing eczema when the mercury drops.
1. Stay hydrated
“Maintaining moisture in the skin is your number one priority. This is especially important in winter, because when the air dries out, so does your skin. You have to be on top of your eczema all the time and constantly manage it. This comes with developing a daily skin routine, encompassing cleansers and moisturisers, and actually sticking to it,” says Cheryl.
“Put simply, if you don’t follow through you won’t get the results you’re after. Moisturise well and often.”
2. Switch up your skin regime
“Many eczema sufferers tend to stick to the same products, but we know that sometimes making a change can yield fantastic results,” says Cheryl. “As an eczema sufferer myself, I find that I have to change up some of the products I use in winter when the weather conditions are much harsher.”
“Simple switches, such as swapping a lotion for a thicker, emollient-rich cream like Cream E45, can be very effective as they help provide an additional protective barrier, preventing moisture loss.”
“Other switches include swapping a soap-free wash to a bath or shower oil, or using a topical steroid.”
3. Avoid the heat
“It’s tempting to crank the heater in winter but unfortunately, it’s a fast way to dry out the skin and trigger an eczema flare-up. Tight-fitting clothing or materials with rough fibres can further irritate the skin, so one of the best ways to overcome the chill is to layer up with clothing made of soft fabrics or 100 per cent cotton,” says Cheryl. “Hot showers and baths can also strip the skin of its natural oils, so try to keep these lukewarm.”
4. Consider using a humidifier
“A humidifier in the home or office can help add moisture back into the dry air, especially if you have the heater on. But what if you don’t own a humidifier? Simply fill some bowls with water and place these around the house when you’ve got the heating on,” says Cheryl. “It’s a simple but effective solution.”
5. See your health professional
“Visiting your doctor or dermatologist is always advisable as they will help guide you in putting together a new skin management plan. Heading to your local pharmacy is also a great way to find out what new products are available for skin relief. The important thing to remember is that everyone’s skin is different, which means treatment and management of eczema is a very personal thing.”
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