More than 31 million Americans have eczema—an uncomfortable, itchy, inflamed skin condition that often runs in families.

Eczema flare-ups can occur at any time of year and may be caused by a variety of different environmental or allergic conditions. However, for many people living with eczema, their symptoms are often a lot worse in winter than in warmer months.

According to the National Eczema Foundation "the low humidity common in many parts of the United States during winter can cause dry, irritated skin. When skin becomes dry and irritated, eczema can flare."

So what should you do to keep your skin from developing eczema or making it worse? Try these simple ways to help prevent winter eczema flares.


Winter's dry air causes already sensitive skin to become irritated, cracked, and itchy. There are a few ways you can replace moisture:

1. Place humidifiers in the rooms you spend most of your time in, especially the bedroom. This will replace moisture in the air and prevent skin from drying out.

2. Slather on an oil-based moisturizer after a bath or shower and several times throughout the day. Heavy creams and ointments are better than lotions.

3. Be sure to apply moisturizer to your face, hands, and any areas where eczema tends to crop up. Skin that will be exposed to the outdoors is especially vulnerable.

Take Cover

Protect your sensitive skin from the elements:

4. You can still suffer from sunburn on cold, winter days, which will further irritate eczema. Apply sunscreen every time you go outdoors, especially to areas that will be exposed.

5. Wear gloves, but be careful about what they're made of. Wool is irritating for many people with eczema so add a cotton or synthetic glove liner, or avoid wool altogether.

6. Wear layers of clothing to avoid getting too hot or too cold. Cold, dry air can irritate sensitive, inflamed skin, but so can excess heat.

Stay dry

Sweat, damp clothing and chafing add extra irritation to inflamed, itchy skin. Be sure to:

7. Change out of damp clothes ASAP after a workout or outdoor activity.

8. Shower after a sweaty workout and towel dry gently.

If these winter skin-care tips aren't enough to keep your skin eczema-free, see your doctor about allergens and other issues that may be causing your skin to flare up. She may prescribe creams and ointments to alleviate the condition.

Liesa Harte, MD, reviewed this article.



National Eczema Foundation.