Q: Eczema flares are common in winter. Why does this happen and is there anything patients can do to prevent symptoms?

Purvi Parikh, MD: Eczema is an allergic skin disorder and dry skin contributes to problems in the skin barrier. During winter months, when there’s less moisture in the air, our skin tends to lose moisture more quickly than it does in the spring, summer and fall.

Some preventive measures parents and patients can take to prevent drying of the skin is to increase moisturizing in the winter.

For example, if you normally moisturize once a day after a shower, then try moisturizing two or even three times a day during the winter so your skin does not become dry and cracked. It’s the cracked dry skin that ultimately leads to itching, triggering the itch-scratch cycle.

If you are prone to dry skin in winter, you may also want to use a stronger moisturizer during the winter season.

Another simple preventive measure: take shorter showers during the winter. The act of showering can dry out your skin substantially.

Talk with a board-certified allergist for advice on moisturizers and ask about medicated ointments and creams that can reduce inflammation and relieve itching. If you have severe, persistent eczema, ask about more advanced treatments, such as injectable biologics.

Purvi Parikh, MD, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist with Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and New York University School of Medicine in New York City. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Advocacy Council of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Have a medical question? Email editor@allergyasthmanetwork.org or write to Ask the Allergist, Allergy & Asthma Network, 8229 Boone Blvd., Suite 260, Vienna, VA 22182. 


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