Now that winter and the cold weather have arrived, our skin is prone to dry out. Keeping our skin healthy and moisturized is important. Eczema or atopic dermatitis, allergic inflammation of skin is a chronic skin problem for millions of people. It runs in families and can be triggered by allergy, stress, heat, cold, dry climates and dry skin. Eczema causes skin to become irritated, swollen, red, cracked, dry, itchy and oozy. It can appear anywhere on the body. Typically is on the wrists, hands, neck, and folds of the arms and back of the knees.

Atopic dermatitis is caused from allergies in the home and/or foods. The skin has a tendency to become inflamed. It predominantly affects children but can also affect adults.

There are many eczema triggers which can easily be avoided.

  • Use dye-free and fragrance-free soaps and detergents to prevent sensitizations.
  • Avoid perfumes and toiletries that contain alcohol and preservatives
  • Avoid bubble baths during flare ups
  • Wear clothes made of cotton and smooth fabric, rather than wool. Wool can itch and irritate eczema, usually because of lanolin.
  • When stressed, do not scratch eczema patches. Try cutting fingernails and wear cotton gloves while sleeping.
  • Be aware of food allergies, as those can trigger eczema. Common food allergies to look out for are wheat, fish, cows’ milk, eggs, nuts and soy.
  • Keep dust mites and animal dander in the home to a minimum. Those who are allergic can experience eczema irritation from the indoor allergens.
  • Take short, warm showers so your skin does not dry out and use an emollient afterwards.
  • Do not rub your skin dry with towels, simply pat the areas dry.
  • Use a humidifier to keep air moist, but keep the humidity less than 45 percent.

Treatment for eczema includes steroid creams, moisturizers and antihistamines. Topical corticosteroids come in ointments, creams, and lotions, which your doctor will prescribe. For eczema relief, start with the least potent ointment and apply it only to the inflamed area. For the best result, apply the ointment or cream immediately after your shower. Use corticosteroids only as directed by your doctor. Once the area is healed, discontinue use.

The best thing to do is to determine what you are allergic to, both indoor allergies and foods. Good allergy care, environmental control and proper medication will help keep eczema under control. Your allergies can give you a game plan to keep your allergies and eczema under control.