Friday, February 9, 2018

6 Ways To Help Dry Skin and Eczema This Winter

Winter is the season for cold weather, snow, germs, and skin problems. I'm plagued with dry skin in the winter  months, while my daughter and son have eczema that intensifies in the winter. After dealing with their eczema for nearly ten years, I've found our favorite products and ways to combat skin problems before a trip to the doctor is needed.

1.) Use a combination of lotions and creams. Curel is applied daily (or 2-3 times a day during a breakdown of eczema). If you or your child has eczema, you've probably noticed those problem spots. On those problem spots apply Aquaphor or A&D ointment. A&D is my preference over Aquaphor, but we tend to go through a tube rather quickly.

2.) Wear loose and/or cotton clothing. I know footie pajamas are appealing for kids to keep them warm on cold winter nights, however, fleece and other heavy fabrics don't let skin breathe. Which means any moisture (sweat) is kept on the skin, causing breakouts. 
Our oldest (who has numerous allergies and issues with eczema because of those allergies) has never been able to wear fleece pajamas because they caused his eczema to flare up. He has always worn light cotton pajamas to bed and we've kept the thermostat set at 72 degrees during the winter months.

3.) When loose and breathable fabrics are not worn, flare ups can happen, which can make the skin itchy. Kids (and adults) will itch their skin. All of that itching just causes more breakouts and spreading of the eczema/dry skin. It can also invite bacteria to settle in, which just makes for more issues.
Fun fact that I learned a few years ago: My oldest had a large eczema patch on his hip that he kept itching because he was wearing heavier clothes (middle of winter in Iowa. It's not like I could send him to school in lightweight shorts and a t-shirt!). He itched it and scratched it open. The spot grew, and grew, and grew, until it covered his back and buttocks. We were using creams prescribed by the doctors, our "special remedy" of Curel and A&D. We were finally referred to a dermatologist, who informed us that his eczema area was flared up, infected, and grew a fungus. Yes, his ass grew a fungus! Apparently it can happen when flare ups last so long. It took us three months to fully cure that flare up and another three months of wearing a gauze patch because the skin in that area was thinned from all of the treatments.

4.) Don't over bath or wash. That's difficult in the middle of winter when germs are running rampant . If you're like me and work in a profession where washing hands every two minutes is pretty much a requirement, be sure to get a moisturizing soap and have your lotion nearby. I feel like all I do is wash my hands and put lotion on during the day. I use so much of it this time of year that I actually have to create a budget for soaps and lotions. While my hands are a tad drier than normal, there's no cracking skin, so that's a plus. Here's some great recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology for bathing kids year round (just not in the winter months).

5.) When the skin is itchy and flared, wear socks to bed. Full disclosure, I have never had to wear socks on my hands for my dry skin, however, I've had to go that route with two of my minis. As stated above, during an eczema flare up, the skin can be quite itchy. Kids can and will itch themselves in their sleep, which can create scratches and cuts on the inflamed areas, which can then lead to bacteria getting into the scratches. To keep my kids from itching and damaging the already tender skin, I put socks on their hands when they crawl into bed. This keeps them from itching and in my daughter's case, helps her cracked, dry hands heal quickly.

6.) DON'T be scared to seek doctor treatment. Sometimes a prescription cream is needed to get your skin to a manageable at-home-treatment level. Don't be scared to ask your doctor for a dermatology recommendation if nothing is working. Trust me, the last thing you want is for your dry skin to grow a fungus. If you feel your skin issues are allergy related, ask for a referral to an allergist.