This week started with Blue Monday, which is considered by many to be the most depressing day of the year … It’s around this time that winter starts to feel long, especially when the cold dry air causes skin issues and frequent eczema flare ups.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic condition where patches of skin become extremely dry, itchy and inflamed. Skin can look red, swollen and crusty, and can even ooze or bleed during severe eczema flare ups.
The causes of eczema are different for everyone, which means that what works for some people doesn’t necessarily work for others. In some cases a change of diet can lead to improvement, while others may require environmental changes like changes to soaps and creams. Some people take omega 3 and probiotic supplements to help support immune system health, and doctors can prescribe steroids and antihistamines to reduce inflammation and itching.
There are many simple things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of eczema and manage your flare ups. So pick a bright shade of blue and designate Blue Monday as the beginning of the best part of winter. Here are the Top 10 ways to combat eczema this winter:
1. Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom Salt baths are easy to prepare and can provide a lot of comfort during severe flare ups. Epsom Salts are made of magnesium sulfate, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
To prepare an Epsom Salt bath, simply add 1-3 cups of Epsom Salt to your warm bath water and dissolve. You can also add drops of tea tree oil or essential oils like lavender to your bath water with some coconut oil. Soak in the tub for 10-15 minutes to allow your skin to absorb the magnesium and gain the full benefits of your bath.
2. Use gentle soap
Select an unscented soap that has few ingredients and is formulated for sensitive skin and eczema. Make sure to read all of the ingredients in the soap to ensure that it doesn’t contain any of your allergens, as nut oils and fruit extracts can be used. In my household, we skip the fancy expensive brands and use pure vegetable glycerin soap.
3. Use a thick moisturizing barrier cream
Selecting a moisturizer is one of the more difficult decisions to make, because there are so many different types available. Lotions can help lock water into skin, repair damaged skin, reduce dryness and itching and provide a barrier for the skin. Some products are “lipid-replenishing” or contain ceramide, which is a type of fat that occurs naturally in the skin’s outer layer. There are also products that contain ingredients to help soothe the skin, such as oatmeal and essential oils. There are many products marketed specifically to people with eczema and they can be pricey, so try asking for samples from your doctor or drugstore to decide which product works best for you before you purchase a full bottle.