It’s officially winter and you may find some children’s eczema will annoyingly appear again or become more serious, particularly on the hands and behind the knee-caps. Eczema will sometimes occur again on our older children who we thought had ‘outgrown’ their eczema.
No-one really knows the true causes of eczema. In winter it’s possibly aggravated by our exposure to heating - the air tends to be drier, so the skin becomes drier and more sensitive.
Here are some tips to manage eczema in winter:
- First and foremost moisturise, moisturise, moisturise (then moisturise a bit more). Avoid products with fragrances and plant extracts. Try keeping the cream at your child’s bedside table so that you/they remember to put some on in the morning and before they go to sleep. Place a bottle of moisturiser near the basin- it’s not a bad idea to get into the habit of applying some moisturiser after each hand-wash. Remind your child to be extra thorough about drying their hands in the winter, especially between their fingers, as residual water and colder temperatures do not mix well on eczema-affected skin. Keep creams in the car and in their school bag to apply.
- If you have central heating, keep the temperature at about 20°C – overheating your home will make the air drier. You may want to consider buying a humidifier which can help to moisten the air.
- Make sure your child’s shower or bath water is warm but not hot. Did you know, hot water can also have a drying effect upon the skin? It can strip the skin of its natural oils that keep skin healthy. Keep your shower/bath to 10-15 minutes and remember to apply a good quality moisturiser within 3 minutes after bathing or any water-based activities to ‘lock’ moisture in.
- Clothing and Protection. When we rug up for the colder weather, sometimes we forget to protect our hands. It’s a good idea to try to wear a pair of cotton gloves (ensure they are dry) when outdoors. Wearing cotton gloves can also help prevent scratching. Wearing 100 per cent cotton or soft fabrics as underclothing – avoiding rough, scratchy fibres will also help. A couple of thinner layers is often better than one thick layer as you can more easily add or remove clothing to regulate your child’s body temperature – it’s best to try to avoid letting them get too hot.