8 ways to manage eczema through a Canadian winter

When winter comes to Canada, you may find that your eczema flares up. Here are some of the reasons eczema can flare in winter, and some ideas for helping to manage it.

1. Indoors: Get out of wet clothes. Outdoor activities can leave you wet from snow (and sweat) and irritate your skin. Wear layers when you ski, snowshoe or skate, and bring along a change of clothes.

2. Outdoors: Cover your skin. Keep your hands protected from the harsh cold with gloves or mittens in a fabric that breathes. For your face, consider a cotton balaclava on chilly days. Many eczema sufferers also protect their cheeks with Vaseline or other creams.

3. Daily: Moisturize. Don’t forget to moisturize! Work it into your daily routine, such as every time after brushing teeth and after a bath or shower. Keep baths and showers lukewarm (not hot), as hot water dries the skin.

4. Avoid triggers: Fabrics. For some people with eczema, fabrics like polyester, polar fleece or wool are triggers. Know your triggers and find fabrics that work for you.

5. Avoid triggers: Air quality. Dry air will dry the skin. Take steps to humidify the air in your home. If you can’t use a humidifier, try opening your windows for 10-20 minutes a day to let moisture in. Smoke can also be an eczema trigger.

6. Avoid triggers: detergents. Many people with eczema choose scent-free, colour-free clothing detergents and choose not to use fabric softeners, which often contain harsh ingredients. It can also be helpful to use your own hand and body soap when you are traveling or staying with family.

7. Switch it up. Talk to your allergist or dermatologist about new products for moisturizing skin and reducing the itch. It can take a lot of trying to find the right product and routine (and sometimes you need to switch it up when something stops working). Don’t give up!

8. Remember: Take care of yourself. Having eczema can be stressful. Be sure to get enough rest and take the time to care for your skin. Whether you are a parent of a child with eczema or have eczema yourself, reach out when you need to.