Winter season is round the corner and for those suffering from eczema this can be a particularly dreaded time of the year. The cold, dry weather can make your eczema flare. Here are answers to some of your common queries and some tips to keep your skin soft and supple this winter.
1. I have eczema. Will bathing dry my skin further?
No. In fact, when you bathe the skin soaks up moisture to hydrate itself. Also dirt, pollen and other allergens are washed off from the surface. It is important that the bath temperature be warm as very hot water can remove the natural moisturisers from your skin.
2. Can I use soap to take bath?
Of course. Just make sure that you go for mild soaps like dove or cetaphil bar. Soaps with excessive fragrance and strong colours can irritate your skin if you suffer from eczema.
3. Which moisturiser should I use?
You can apply a thicker, greasier petrolatum based formulation like Vaseline after bath to seal in the moisture. Others with glycerine, rose water, ceramides, squalene, etc are also available. It would be best to consult with your dermatologist to choose a moisturiser suitable for you.
More important will be following the “3 minute rule”. You should make sure that the skin is pat dried and slathered with moisturiser within 3 minutes of bathing to lock in all the moisture.
4. Are oil massages good for dry skin?
Oil massage before bathing can help improve the circulation and ease stress. Warm coconut oil or sunflower oil can be used. Traditionally, mustard oil is used in our country but it is better to avoid using it especially in those prone to eczema as it is known to cause contact dermatitis.
5. What precautions should I take during winters to prevent flares of my eczema?
– Always wear an inner lining of cotton wear before putting on your woollens
– Do not use blowers to heat your room. Go for oil heaters instead and use a humidifier if possible.
– Avoid using carpets at home. Wooden flooring is a better option.
– Vacuum the bedding, curtains, sofas, etc on a regular basis to tackle dust mites and pollen
– Do not use bleach or fabric softeners for your clothes
– Give extra rinses to washed clothes if necessary
– Do not keep potted plants inside the house
– Avoid pets especially dogs and cats as the dander can cause flares. If you or your children are very keen, go for pets like turtles, fish, etc.
– Keep your nails short to prevent sores from scratching
6. Can my family members catch eczema from me?
Absolutely not. It is not an infection and is due to genetic, environmental and immune factors. So don’t worry.
7. Are not steroids prescribed by doctors harmful for me?
Doctors use steroids for the management of acute flares. If used as directed, they are absolutely safe. So, it is important to have close communication and follow up with your doctor to know how, when and for how long to use the medication.
8. Can my eczema be cured?
As of now there is no known cure for eczema. There are many factors responsible for causing eczema. With age the condition normally improves but the basic defect in the skin barrier persists. So one needs to adopt a good skin care regime to manage the dryness and prevent any flares.
9. Is stress causing my eczema?
Stress does not CAUSE eczema but it can surely aggravate your problem. Yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques help some patients keep their eczema under control.
10. Will I need to be on medication lifelong?
Most patients manage well with good skin care. Occasional flares may need intervention. Your dermatologist can counsel you and help you identify triggers causing our flares.
Treatment with steroid creams and other agents and rarely oral medicines and phototherapy is reserved for severe flares or those not responding to the conventional treatment.