(BPT) - With cooler weather here for many, it’s important to keep in mind that dropping temperatures and drier air can have an impact on your health, especially the health of your skin. People with eczema may experience additional irritation and flareups during the colder seasons. This can be particularly difficult for children, as the itchy red patches of skin can be bothersome, distracting and even embarrassing.
Eczema — also known as atopic dermatitis — impacts 31.6 million people in the U.S., or roughly one out of 10 people, according to the National Eczema Association. That number includes approximately 9.6 million U.S. children under the age of 18, with one-third having moderate to severe forms of the condition. And the prevalence of childhood atopic dermatitis has steadily increased over the past two decades.
"It can be so difficult to watch a child struggle with eczema if you're a parent or caregiver," said board certified pediatrician Dr. Mona Amin. "This complex condition is influenced by many factors, and therefore treating it can be quite challenging. Fortunately, there are several steps families can take during cold weather months to help kids with eczema look and feel their best."
In honor of Eczema Awareness Month, Dr. Amin shares her top eczema care tips:
Avoid common triggers
Everyone is different, so pay attention to what may trigger your child's eczema. Fragrances are a common irritant, so be mindful to use fragrance-free soap, shampoo, conditioner and laundry detergent. When washing clothes, you may need to add another rinse cycle to ensure detergents are completely washed away. Additionally, many people use seasonal scented hand soap which smells great but can irritate the hands, especially with the current higher levels of washing.
Wear soft, breathable clothing
As kids begin to layer on clothing to stave off the chill, they may be unknowingly worsening eczema symptoms. Synthetic fabrics or fabrics with textures are often the culprit of irritation. When possible, choose natural, breathable clothing, especially the layer that is closest to the skin. Cotton, silk and bamboo fabrics are good options. What's more, remember to have kids wear gloves to protect their hands against cold air that can dry the skin and exacerbate eczema.
Relieve the itch
When your child experiences a flareup, it’s important to combat the dreaded itch-scratch cycle as quickly as possible. Reach for Aquaphor Itch Relief Ointment, formulated with 1% hydrocortisone (anti-itch ointment) along with other soothing ingredients. "I always recommend Aquaphor Itch Relief Ointment to my patients ages 2 and older," said Dr. Amin. "It is the No. 1 pediatrician recommended brand for eczema, and the Aquaphor Itch Relief Ointment is clinically proven to provide significant itch relief for up to 12 hours. It immediately soothes itchy spots to help skin heal. You can find it in either 1-ounce or 2-ounce sizing at your local Walmart or Walmart.com."
Soothe and nourish skin
Cool, dry air can cause dry skin that triggers eczema. A short 5- to 10-minute warm bath (not hot!) can be soothing and even restorative to the skin. Your child may not even need to wash with soap every time if they aren't dirty or smelly; just let skin soak up the H2O. Finish by gently patting water off the skin with a towel so it's still a bit damp and apply a nourishing lotion or cream to lock in moisture.
In addition to keeping your child's skin hydrated externally, remember to have them drink plenty of water so they are hydrated internally as well. This helps the body heal and supports organ health. Make sure kids of all ages have a water bottle filled and accessible throughout the day. To make it more fun, let them choose a style and design that reflects their own personality.
Cold weather and eczema flareups often go hand in hand, but a few proactive steps and mindful measures can help you treat the itch and prevent future irritation.