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Eczema: Seasonal Changes

Baby with eczema

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin condition that comes in many forms. It is also called eczema.

With eczema, the skin becomes dry, very itchy and rash may appear. There are usually times when the condition is worse, and times when the condition is better. When the condition worsens, this a called a flare-up. Flare-ups often occur in the winter months when the air is drier, but it can happen any time throughout the year.

Colder mon​ths

You may find that your child’s eczema is worse in the colder, dryer months. During this time, the air becomes very dry and holds less moisture. This can cause dryer skin. Also, the heating in some houses can cause skin to dry out and flare-ups to occur. It is important that you keep your child covered in the winter and maintain your regular bathing and moisturizing schedule.

  • In the colder months, your child should avoid wearing wool or other rough fabrics. These fabrics can be very irritating to the skin and may lead to flare-ups.
  • Dress your child warmly when they go outside. Layers are preferred because too much clothing may make your child sweat and increase itch. Protect the sensitive areas of the face and hands by having your child wear a scarf and gloves when going outside.
  • Use a humidifier. It helps keep the air moist and helps to prevent the skin from becoming dry. Using a humidifier in your child’s room as well as in other often used rooms may be helpful. Keep the humidifier’s filter clean of mould and dust because they could trigger asthma attacks.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

Warmer mo​nths

In the warmer months, humidity can increase sweating and can cause flare-ups in some people. It is important for your child to stay cool. Sweating causes itchiness and can make the symptoms of eczema worse.

  • Have your child wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Cotton allows the air to circulate better and helps to absorb body moisture. This helps to keep the body cool and dry.
  • During flare-ups, it may be a good idea to lessen activities in which the child may sweat a lot, or try to participate in these activities earlier or later in the day when it is not as hot.

Sun exposu​re

Many people with eczema find their symptoms get better when they go out in the sun. Other people may find their symptoms get worse. No matter what the case is for your child, you still need to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays​. Some sunscreens can make eczema worse:

  • Sunscreens may contain ingredients that can irritate some people’s skin.
  • Test any new product on a small area before using it on the rest of the body.
  • Apply a small amount to the inside of your child’s arm and wait 24 hours to see if any reaction happens.
  • If your child's skin becomes red or itchy after you have tested the sunscreen, do not use it.
  • Sunscreen with SPF 30 and above should be used.
  • If you are having trouble, ask your pharmacist, nurse or doctor for advice.


Key po​ints

  • You may find that your child's eczema is worse in the colder, dryer months. Use a humidifier and keep moisturizing your child's skin.
  • In the warmer months, help your child stay cool to avoid sweating.
  • Protect your child's skin from the sun.
Miriam Weinstein, MD, FRCPC
Jackie Su, RN
DermNet NZ. []. Hamilton, New Zealand: DermNet NZ; 2008