Everything you ever wanted to know about xerotic eczema


Xerotic eczema is also known as winter itch.  It’s a form of eczema that involves extremely dry, itchy skin that becomes cracked.  Breakouts of xerotic eczema are very common during the winter, hence the common name of the problem.  Many people also get winter itch as early as the fall.  The most common parts of the body for winter itch breakouts are the arms, legs, and trunk. 


A breakout of xerotic eczema looks like red rashes on the skin.  They appear blotchy and scaly and can progress to dried darkly colored patches.  Usually cracks also appear in the skin, and bleeding can sometimes occur, especially if the person scratches the area.


The reason many people suffer from winter itch is actually a combination of very dry, cold weather and too much bathing.  Water actually dries out the skin a lot, especially if you don’t apply moisturizer right after bathing.  People who bathe too much during the winter actually end up washing all the excess oil right off their skin.  That extra oil serves as a way to moisturize the skin during the harsh weather of winter.  Another problem for xerotic eczema is indoor heating.  Heating units actually dry out the air inside a home, and many people also take extra baths to warm up. 


One of the easiest ways to help a breakout of xerotic eczema heal is to not bathe as often.  Make sure you bathe no more than once a day, or once every other day if you can stand not taking a bath every day.  Another step you can take to help battle winter itch is as simple as changing the kind of soap you use.  Deodorant soap has an especially severe drying effect on the skin, so try a non-deodorant soap.  Dove is a good choice for winter itch because it has moisturizers in it, so look for a soap that is non-deodorant and includes moisturizers.


There are some complications that can make winter itch even more of a problem.  Extremely dry skin can be more susceptible to infections, especially ringworm, which is a bacterial infection of the skin that presents with scaly round rings that have a patch of clear skin in the middle.


You also may suffer from a more severe case of winter itch if you change fabric softeners or detergents.  Skin that’s affected by winter itch is more likely to present with a reaction against these chemicals.  Experts have found that dryer sheets are more likely to cause problems for people with winter itch, so you may want to consider using a liquid fabric softener.


The easiest way to prevent winter itch is simply to bathe less often and make sure you have a constant supply of moisturizer on hand.  Also try not to overheat your home, and use a humidifier to cut back on the dryness in the air.  You can also moisturize your skin by simply drinking extra water, which also has the benefit of moisturizing your entire body.


 

 

 


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