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Ask the Dermatologist

How to Get Your Skin Winter-Ready with Eczema

Q. Last winter, it was very cold where I live, and I struggled with my atopic eczema. I got outbreaks of dry, flaky or blistering skin, especially on my neck and near my mouth. Do you have suggestions for “winterizing” my skin? I’d like to avoid steroid creams again. For instance, would a super mild soap help?

Dr. Skotnicki: Winter brings two main irritants that can cause the skin of patients with atopic eczema to flare: low humidity and cold temperatures. These decrease the fats (or lipids) in the outer layer of the skin, so it’s important to replace the fats with moisturizers that contain ceramides. Examples would be CeraVe, Cetaphil Restoraderm, Eucerin Eczema Relief or Aveeno Eczema Therapy.

Also keep in mind that with central heating, the humidity in your home decreases. To combat this, keep the temperature in your bedroom lower at night and use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air.

You mention using a “mild soap”. Unfortunately, traditional soaps dry out the skin by stripping away its natural oils and fats. Also, the term “mild” doesn’t mean much when it comes to soap, since that term isn’t regulated in the cosmetic industry, Rather than soap, look for something called a syndet cleanser, like Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Lipikar Syndet. These cleansers often don’t foam or make suds, but you don’t need foaming to clean the skin.

Find Dr. Skotnicki’s clinic at baydermatologycentre.com.

First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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