Chronic skin conditions like eczema are more likely to flare up in the winter months due to the changes in the atmosphere and the environment. This irritating and sometimes painful skin condition leads to itching, swelling, pain and even cracks in the skin when it is not taken care of. Even family caregivers and elder care providers that do a good job taking care of the eczema symptoms for most of the year may be surprised to see it flare up in the winter.
Knowing the triggers for a winter flare-up of eczema will help family caregivers and elder care providers figure out the best methods to prevent breakouts from happening and treating them if they do.
Eczema Flare-Ups in Winter are Common
Eczema is caused by a reduction in fluid, fat and tissues that normally keep the skin supple and soft. Because elderly adults lose a lot of that due to age, eczema is more common in seniors. There are environmental triggers that cause eczema to flare up, causing seniors to suffer with itching, swelling and pain. The fluctuations in temperature, going from cold to warm to cold frequently, strip the moisture from the skin. Dry air from heating systems and space heaters also aggravate eczema.
Thick fabric from winter clothing can trigger discomfort with eczema. Wool, polyester and other fabrics typical in winter wear don’t treat the skin as well as cool and light fabrics like cotton and linen. Finally, many seniors don’t drink enough water in the winter months because they aren’t warm, causing mild to moderate dehydration. All these factors combine to create the ideal conditions for a winter flare-up of eczema.
Helping Seniors with Eczema Winter Flare-Ups
To minimize the effects of winter on an elderly person’s eczema, family caregivers and elder care providers need to take certain steps. The first thing to do is for seniors to moisturize their skin one or two times per day using a high-quality moisturizer. Because dry air is a problem, many family caregivers and elder care providers bring in humidifiers for key rooms in the house. This keeps the air moist and the irritation of the eczema under control.
Other things that family caregivers and elder care providers can do to help prevent winter flare-ups of eczema is to avoid baths and showers that are too hot—lukewarm water is best for eczema. Seniors should drink plenty of water during the winter months, so they are not dehydrated. If a doctor has prescribed a topical ointment, family caregivers and elder care providers can help seniors apply the medicinal cream on the affected area.
Every elderly adult that depends on family caregivers and elder care providers for assistance will need their help in combating winter flare-ups of eczema. With a few lifestyle changes, aging adults will be more comfortable and face less irritation.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Plainsboro, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.