Iowa winters can be gorgeous. All the white, glistening snow. The super blue skies.
I personally prefer to enjoy it all from the indoors, but I know some like to be out in the thick of it. Aside from the bitter cold and winds that can come with Iowa winters, it is the dry air and eczema flares that I dislike the most.
Eczema is actually the name for a group of skin conditions, but the most common of these is atopic dermatitis. How eczema presents often looks different from person to person and can be caused or aggravated by a lot of different things.
This is something my family battles throughout the year, but it takes on a special difficulty during the winter. I imagine that the lack of moisture in the air has something to do with it, since moisture if one of the best ways to help with eczema.
As someone who has been in the thick of it with my own skin and with my sons’, I wanted to share some of the tried-and-true products and tricks that I have learned personally and through friends who have also dealt with it.
General Tips, Tricks, and Products
(Disclaimer: Neither myself nor Cedar Rapids Moms have been paid or compensated in any way to promote any of the companies and products listed from here on out. My family and I use these and any recommendations are my opinion alone. Consult your doctor before treating any medical condition on your own.)
Bathing can either help or harm your eczema. I said before that dry air might aggravatge eczema, but surprisingly, too long of an exposure to water can actually flare it even worse. It is best to take short showers and baths and to try to limit them to 10-15 minutes. It’s also best to avoid hot showers and to instead take warm showers. If you do take a bath, you can try different things for your eczema.
(This sounds bizarre but) consider taking a bleach bath. You can add ½ cup of household bleach to at least 40 gallons of water. This is usually equivalent to a normal bathtub filled to where your overflow drains would be. Do not use concentrated bleach in this amount! You can soak for about 5-10 minutes (but do NOT submerge your head), and rinse well when getting out. Do not do this more than once or twice a week, as any more may damage your skin. This is to help curb the amount of bacteria on your skin, which can help with the eczema flares.
If bleach is not your scene, there are other types of baths that can also aid with eczema. You can try these homemade bath soaks:
- Baking soda- 1/4 cup for the bathtub water
- Colloidal oatmeal (or oats)- Grind oats into a fine powder. You can do this in a food processor. We usually do about a quarter of a cup to a half of a cup for the whole tub.
- Vinegar- one cup of white distilled vinegar to the tub. This is not the most pleasant smelling, but, similar to the bleach bath, it decreases bacteria on the skin. You can also use apple cider vinegar for something sweeter smelling.
- Salt- sometimes the skin may be raw and a bath can cause your skin to sting a bit. A cup of table salt mixed in the water can help ease that.
There are also store-bought bath products if you would rather try something already fully made that you just have to dump in. One of my favorite products has been Aveeno’s Soothing Bath Treatment. It’s really affordable and comes in nice easy packets that you can just rip open and dump. We also keep them on hand for the summer for any bug bites that are troublesome. The main ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, but it also contains mineral oil, which helps moisturize your skin.
The biggest things after baths and showers is to NOT rub your skin dry. Pat your skin with a towel instead. It helps to press the moisture into the skin and prevents further irritation.
Soap is meant to clean your skin. It can also dry it out easily, depending on the products. Plus, the rubbing is not good for eczema. It’s important to keep the right kind of soaps in the house to help curb the eczema flares.
As a general rule, any soap that is dye and perfume free tend to be pretty eczema-friendly. For hand soap during the winter, we use Eczema Honey foaming hand soap because it’s very safe for daily use and it doesn’t seem to dry out our hands like other soaps. As far as body washes, our favorites are
- Honest Company Soothing Therapy Eczema body wash
- Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash
- Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash
- CeraVe Soothing Body Wash
- Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Cream Body Wash
Again, just look for products that are dye free, perfume free, and have a good moisturizing base. They will usually work just fine!
Lotions and Creams
One of the most important products that you use is lotion or cream! There are so many choices out there to buy or you can easily make your own at home using some basic ingredients.
When you make your items at home, you will want to consider using a thicker, oil based item (think Vaseline, shea butter, or coconut oil), and add items to that. We tend to do Vaseline, some hydrocortisone (1%), honey, powdered oats, and a few drops of an essential oil (typically lavender). There are tons of DIY recipes out there! I would recommend making smaller batches and testing to see if it works.
If you would prefer to just buy some that are tried and true, check out
- Tubby Todd Bath Co All Over Ointment
- Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream or Itch Relief Balm
- Honest Company Soothing Therapy Eczema Cream
- Cetaphil Baby Eczema Calming Lotion
- Aquaphor Healing Ointment
- Eczema Honey Original Skin-Soothing Cream
If it is your hands and feet that suffer the most in the winter with eczema (or even dry skin in general), one great tip is to slather your hands in feet in your moisturizer of choice. Take a little bit of petroleum jelly or other oil of choice, and put that over the cream. Then put on socks and gloves overnight. It really helps the product saturate your poor hands and feet and heal the skin!
Wet dressings are also a thing! You can take thin material or bandages and soak them in water, vinegar, or diluted colloidal oatmeal or baking soda and place them on your skin. Put something dry over it and hang out. It will pack a punch with putting moisture back into your skin and helping with the inflammation.
If you cannot seem to get the eczema under control, no matter what you do, please be sure to see a doctor or a dermatologist! Sometimes a firmer treatment is needed, and they can help lead you in that direction- especially if the eczema is being caused by an underlying condition such as a food or environmental allergy.
What other tried and true tips, tricks, and products have you used and loved?
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