It’s wintertime, you expect chilly weather, hot chocolate, turning up the heat, and snow falling, but are you someone who also expects itchy, dry skin along with the cold front? Many people experience changes of their skin during colder months of the year. Several factors contribute to this including cold outdoor temperatures, hot showers, low humidity, and even harsh soaps. With the weather changes, the skin can become red, flaking, sore, and very itchy. There are also many underlying dermatologic conditions that lead to these symptoms and worsen in the winter including psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, acne, and most common, atopic dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) also known as eczema is a condition that causes a dry, itchy, scaly rash on the skin. It most often appears in childhood (90% of AD occurs before age five), and can last throughout a lifetime. Atopic Dermatitis mainly occurs in the creases of the elbows and knees, but can also commonly occur on the neck, wrists, ankles, and creases of the buttock. It appears to be more prevalent in family members that also have a history of AD, asthma, or hay fever. It’s important to see a dermatologist for this condition because if left untreated, itching over time can lead to thickened skin (lichenification) and pigmentation changes which are more difficult to treat.
How providers at our office can help:
These medications include, but are not limited to:
- Emollients – They help rebuild the skin’s barrier by preventing water loss and creating a protective layer
- Topical steroids – help to reduce inflammation, and diminish itching
- Antihistamines – help to reduce itching sensation, especially at night time
- A newly approved non-steroidal topical medication that is now available by prescription through our office!
Biopsy to confirm the diagnosis
Even though AD tends to be a clinical diagnosis, a provider may take a biopsy to confirm AD or to rule out any other suspecting diagnoses.
Studies suggest that allergies can make AD worse. A patch test can be performed where a small number of common allergens are placed within a patch on a person back. After two days, the patient is to return to the office and their skin is observed for any reactions to the multiple allergens being tested.
- Bathe in warm water, try to avoid hot showers
- Limit bathing to no more than 10 minutes
- Avoid bubble baths
- Use non-scented mild cleansers/soaps like Dove, Cetaphil, Cerave, Aveeno, or Neutrogena
- Pat yourself dry after bathing, do not rub the skin, which can lead to more irritation
Moisturizers – should be applied twice daily for maximum benefit
- Light Moisturizers
- Thick Moisturizers
- Washing Clothes
- Use hypoallergenic, perfume and dye-free laundry detergent
- Avoid wool clothing
- Wear cotton and natural fiber clothing
- Add humidity to your home with a humidifier to add moisture back into your environment
- Avoid harsh cleaning products
- Keep fingernails short and clean
Speak with a board-certified dermatologist before beginning a bleach bath
- Use regular 6% strength bleach, do not use concentrated
- Measure the right amount of bleach
- Full bathtub – half cup of bleach
- Half bathtub – a quarter cup of bleach
- Baby/Toddler bath – one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water
- Never apply directly to eczema, pour bleach in the tub while it is filling
- Enter tub once it is completely done filling
- Ask dermatologist how long to soak – usually 5 to 10 minutes
- Pat skin dry, apply medication, then apply moisturizer
The Center for Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Surgery can answer any additional questions or treatments regarding atopic dermatitis. We can educate patients who suffer from Atopic Dermatitis on other non-steroidal prescriptions and approved alternatives as well as helping to isolate aggravating factors to help ease the burden of eczema.
Hopefully, this article can be helpful to you or a loved one. Stay warm (and moisturized) during these winter months!
Center for Dermatology, Laser, and Cosmetic Surgery LLC.