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Derm Dr. Lau Offers Us 5 Tips for Winter Eczema Flare-Ups

Jan 5, 2019

Feeling itchy this winter? You may have eczema. Eczema is a skin condition that causes red, inflamed skin, which becomes very dry. It’s generally diagnosed in children, but it can occur for the first time in adults as well.

What is eczema?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes a dry, scaly, and itchy rash on the top of the skin. Eczema can be so itchy that someone with the condition can have trouble sleeping.

Why does eczema get worse in winter?

You may find that eczema flare-ups occur more frequently or get worse in the winter. Dry air combined with indoor heating systems can dry out your skin. Eczema flares up because the skin can’t stay moist on its own. Flare-ups can also be caused by wearing too many layers of clothing, taking hot baths, or using too many bed coverings. These are all things you’re more likely to do during the cold winter months.

To combat problems with eczema in the winter, try these tips:

1. Skip hot baths

Because heat can cause your skin to dry out, you should avoid taking very hot baths in winter. Instead, use warm water, and try to bathe or shower less frequently. To keep your skin moist while bathing, add some moisturizing products to the water. Look for products that are specifically made for the bath. For example, there are moisturizing oatmeal products that can be added to the bath. Limit time in the bath as well. Children with eczema should only take baths that are 5 to 10 minutes long.

2. Use a gentle soap

If you have eczema, your skin is very sensitive. Avoid soaps and other bath products with unwanted added ingredients. Look for moisturizing soaps that are fragrance, dye, and alcohol free. Skip bubble baths altogether.

3. Try a thick moisturizer

If you have eczema, your skin requires a lot of moisturizing. Use thick moisturizers and apply them immediately after bathing or showering. Petroleum jelly is a good option. Lotions may not be as effective at treating winter eczema.

For painful, itchy flare-ups, you may also use a cream containing hydrocortisone or hydrocortisone acetate. You should talk to your doctor before using hydrocortisone or hydrocortisone acetate cream, though. Your doctor may also prescribe something stronger to curb your flare-up. Make sure to moisturize your skin more than once per day.

4. Avoid contact with certain materials

Some fibers, such as wool, nylon, and others, can irritate skin and cause eczema. They also may cause overheating, which also leads to flare-ups.

Dress in breathable materials, such as cotton, and avoid wearing too many layers. Also, eliminate unnecessary layers on your bed and make sure bed linens are made from breathable fabrics as well.

5. Try a humidifier

Your heating system pumps a lot of hot air into your home. That likely irritates your eczema-prone skin. Use a humidifier to combat the dry heat. A humidifier adds moisture back into the air. There are portable humidifiers as well as ones that can be hooked up to your heating system. Be sure to maintain the humidifier to avoid bacteria and fungi growth.

If you create a daily routine with these seven tips in mind, the itching, pain, and rash caused by eczema should improve this winter. Contact your doctor if your eczema becomes severe.


Dr. Liu Qinglin

Title: Associate Chief Physician

Department: Dermatology


Acne,acute&chronic eczema, atopic dermatitis, tinea infections, warty hyperplastic skin disorders (flat wart, plantar wart), disturbances of pigment metabolism (Melasma, freckle, mole), keratosis pilaris, dermatitis as well as the diagnosis and treating of other common skin diseases.


Graduated from The Second Military Medical University, Dr. Liu went to Anhui Medical University to further his study. As a doctor with more than 40 years of experience that he gained from lifelong clinical career, nation-wide advanced studies and overseas & domestic academic workshops, he has been engaged in dermatology for a long time and has worked in the department of dermatology and venereal diseases of Renai hospital for more than 13 years. He has unique views on the diagnosis and treatment of various skin diseases and venereal diseases.