Winter months are especially difficult for patients with atopic dermatitis. Low temperatures, dry air, dry and sensitive skin coupled with a weakened skin barrier and an overactive immune system are a perfect recipe for the flare-up of rashes and the onset of the intense and unbearable itch. Although the feeling of helplessness is very strong, there are actions that you can take to mitigate or even prevent flare-ups of your illness. Here is a bundle of winter tips for you.
Chose clothing from natural materials and wear it in layers
Wear clothes that are made of natural materials. This will help your skin to breathe and get rid of the sweat. Sweat is one of the strongest skin irritants in atopic dermatitis, so take care that you don’t overheat your body. Dress in several layers of thin clothes to avoid worsening the rash and to stay in control of the changing temperature in your environment.
Avoid rapid temperature changes
When the skin is exposed to large temperature differences, it dries faster and the feeling of itching is more intense. Control temperature changes with the following measures:
- Protect the exposed body parts from quick temperature changes. For example, if the rash is on your hands, wear gloves.
- When you’re cold, avoid hot water. After a long walk, you might be tempted to take a warm shower but delay it until your body warms up first.
- Although I know very well that a hot shower reduces the itch, try to avoid it. Hot showers not only dry the skin out but also make the body cool down very quickly afterwards, which can irritate the skin.
Feed your atopic skin
Taking care of the atopic skin is a vital part of the daily routine for atopic dermatitis patients. I always insist that it’s important to listen to your body and use the skincare products that suit your skin well. In the winter months, our skin is usually even drier and demands richer skincare products – products that may not be ideal for you skin but are worth the try. However, be careful not to apply very oily creams to open wounds.
Keep the bedroom cool – even at night
Don’t overheat your living spaces during winter. The temperature in your bedroom shouldn’t exceed 19 °C. You should air your bedsheets and cool them down outside before going to sleep.
Try out a humidifier
The air in winter is much drier than in other seasons, both inside and outside your house. This irritates the skin, as it loses its moisture. Together with talking proper care of your skin, try humidifying the air in your living spaces to calm your skin. However, if you’re allergic to mites, be aware that mites love humidity (a 70—90% humidity is ideal for their development).
UV light is a natural immunosuppressant. Exposure to the sun thus benefits more than 80% of patients with atopic dermatitis. As we get less sunlight in the winter months, talk to your dermatologist about phototherapy, which could improve your condition and get your skin ready for the summer months.
Eat food that doesn’t fuel inflammatory processes in your body
Eat unprocessed, local food and stay away from sugar. Numerous studies have shown that certain types of food can worsen atopic dermatitis although the patients don’t have confirmed allergies to them. In addition, remain careful not to eat the food that you have a proven allergy to.
Under the influence of UV-B rays, vitamin D is produced in our skin. Vitamin D reduces the proneness to infections and controls the local immune response in atopic dermatitis patients. The winter days are shorter – we go to work, school or kindergarten in the dark and return when it’s dark. However, the length of the day isn’t the only issue. The angle at which the sunrays hit the Earth’s surface is also problematic. In winter, the sun is low, so the absorption of UV-B rays and the synthesis of vitamin D are reduced. Eat food that contains vitamin D: certain types of fish (salmon, sardines, tuna etc.), egg yolk, cereals.