With a sudden shift into cooler weather, many homeowners are firing up the furnace this October. But forced air heating can dry out indoor environments and for those with already sensitive skin, conditions like eczema can worsen.
October marks Eczema Awareness Month and many adults suffer with the symptoms of the chronic skin condition for their whole life, often beginning in childhood. Elderly adults, with thinning, delicate skin, can find eczema difficult to control. Asteatotic eczema or winter itch frequently affects aging skin and can cause itchy, cracked, scaly red plaques that are commonly found on the legs. Older adults with Parkinson’s or other neurologic diseases can be more prone to seborrheic dermatitis; eczema plaques found on the scalp, face and central chest.
Treating the symptoms of eczema
- Minimize bathing and hot water
- Avoid harsh soaps
- Pat rather than rub dry after showering
- Use emollients to hydrate, especially after bathing
- Topical corticosteroids can be used but may thin skin over time
Source: Cleveland Clinic
Using a humidifier or even a bowl of water left to evaporate can help add moisture to indoor air and help skin from becoming dry and itchy. Clothing choice is also important for people who suffer from eczema. Wool can scratch and increase itching; try to keep cotton or silk next to skin to prevent irritation. And by keeping the home comfortable but not too hot and layering bedding, the cycling of hot and cold which can produce an itchy feeling, is minimized. New research is also testing the effectiveness of probiotics to help reduce inflammation and bring the body back into balance.
To learn more about how to manage symptoms of eczema in older adults follow this link to the National Eczema Association.