Eczema: Seasonal changes

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Eczema (atopic dermatitis) can be worse in cold, dry weather or when your child is hot and sweaty. Find out how you can help your child.

Key points

  • You may find that your child’s eczema is worse in the colder, drier months. While moisturizing daily is part of eczema management, some children need extra applications of moisturizer in the winter.
  • In the warmer months, help your child stay cool to reduce sweating.
  • Protect your child’s skin from the sun.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic (long-lasting) skin condition that comes in many forms.

With eczema, the skin is often dry and very itchy, and a rash usually appears. There are times when the condition is worse, and times when the condition is better. When the condition worsens, it is called a flare-up. Some children get flare-ups in certain seasons, such as the dry cold weather for some people and the hot, humid weather for others. Some children can get flare-ups year-round. Many flare-ups happen for no obvious reason.

Colder months

You may find that your child's eczema is worse in the colder, drier months. During this time, the air becomes very dry and holds less moisture. This can cause drier 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’s skin moisturized. For some children, this means extra applications each day during the winter.

  • As your child will be wearing more clothes and layers in the winter, make sure to watch for fabrics that may irritate the skin and cause a flare-up. If your child starts itching as soon as certain fabrics touch the skin, it could be a sign of a flare-up. For some children, cotton clothing may be less irritating as the first layer next to the skin.
  • While layers are important to keep children warm, remember that overheating can cause sweating, which can be a trigger for some children.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

Warmer months

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 clothing. Fabrics such as cotton may absorb body moisture.
  • When children are outside or doing activities that cause them to sweat, make sure they take breaks to allow time to cool down. They should also make sure to stay hydrated.

Sun exposure

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 child’s health-care provider for advice.
Last updated: March 17th 2024