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Keep Your Dermatitis/Eczema Under Control This Winter

Winter is such a special time. It brings Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and so many opportunities to be surrounded by family and friends. It also brings cold weather that while some love it, others know it will wreak havoc on their skin, especially if they are victim to dermatitis/eczema. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute have the tools for you to keep your dermatitis/eczema under control this winter.


How to Identify and Treat Eczema & Dermatitis

About Dermatitis/Eczema

Having dermatitis/eczema year-round can already be frustrating but can be even worse as winter begins. While the terms dermatitis and eczema are often used interchangeably, there are some differences in which type a person has. Contact dermatitis, or atopic eczema, affects the skin. Seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp.

Atopic eczema often appears as an itchy, red rash. Some may experience raised bumps or thickened and cracked skin as well. It can appear on any gender at any age and stick around for any length of time. It appears on the face most often but can also appear on the arms, hands and legs. Some flare ups may occur solely during the winter and others may have it year-round. It is typically caused by environmental factors, such as the winter, irritants or other allergens. Dry air that arrives with winter strips moisture from our face and other body areas, resulting in dry skin. If you have eczema year-round, this dry skin from the winter can trigger the eczema.

Seborrheic dermatitis appears on the scalp in the form of itchy white/silver flakes. It can also cause redness on the inflamed and irritated areas. Some causes include stress, genetics, medical conditions and of course, the winter because of the dry air. Just as the dry air from the winter strips moisture from our face, arms, hands and legs, like eczema, it strips it from our scalp as well.

There is no permanent treatment for either eczema or dermatitis, but both have a variety of options to try to help keep your skin and scalp moisturized.


How to Combat Dermatitis/Eczema

If you have eczema, there are a few treatments you can use whether you have occasional flare ups from the winter or experience it year-round. First, moisturize your skin at least twice each day with creams or lotions to help lock in moisture. Next, learn your triggers. If a trigger is the cold winter air, make sure you are bundled up with a scarf or face mask when outside. Lastly, limit showers or both to 10 to 15 minutes and use warm water instead of hot water. Hot water instantly dries out skin and can trigger eczema. While in the shower, make sure to use gentle soaps, as harsh chemicals can also trigger eczema.

For seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp, you will want an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that contains one of the following ingredients: coal tar, salicylic acid, ketoconazole or zinc. Use this daily until your symptoms subside. During the winter it is important to cover up and wear a hat. This will keep your scalp warm and avoid it from drying out from the cold, dry air. Lastly, taking a warm and not hot shower is very important to ensure you are not drying out your scalp.

This winter, stay two steps ahead of your dermatitis/eczema by using these tips to keep it under control. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or surrounding areas, complete this form to work with a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute to ensure your skin stays moisturized and healthy throughout the winter.

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