Have you ever noticed during the winter months how dry, flaky and itchy your skin can get? If you have noticed that the skin on your legs or underarms become abnormally dry, inflamed, itchy, and cracked then you may have a form of eczema called xerotic eczema which is also known as “winter itch”.
The decrease of humidity during the winter months cause an increase in breakouts of xerotic eczema because the decrease in humidity drys out the skin, hence the nickname “Winter Itch”. Surprisingly xerotic eczema can also effect people who work in wet conditions because water will actually pull off oils on the skin and further dry it out. Xerotic Eczema most often effects people over the age of 60 but it is not that uncommon for people in their 20’s to also experience xerotic eczema.
The definition of ‘Xerosis’ is dry skin so as you already know one of the major symptoms of xerotic eczema is dry skin. Along with the dry skin you will notice cracking of the skin and itching. The cracked skin may also seep interstitial fluid. Another symptom is the flaking off of skin and redness in and around the affected area.
As you already know one of the major causes of xerotic eczema is abnormally dry skin which can be caused by a change in climate such as in the winter months or from exposing the skin to water for long periods of time. People with poor circulation are also more prone to xerotic eczema. Using harsh soaps or taking long baths and frequent showers can also cause xerotic eczema or worsen the symptoms of it.
Luckily, xerotic eczema is not all that hard to treat. To treat xerotic eczema you may want to start out by adjusting the environment in which you live. Adding a humidifier to your room can go a long ways in helping to decrease how dry your skin gets. Another option you have is to take shorter showers or baths to reduce having the oils on your skin from being washed off. You should also pat yourself dry with a towel rather than rub yourself dry.
While showering use natural products and soaps and avoid any products with synthetic chemicals such as dyes and fragrances that can irritate the skin. You will also want to use an intense mositurizer such as exaderm to help keep the moisture of the skin in.
If your xerotic eczema persists you may want to have a doctor check it out. Topical steroids are usually prescribed to help decrease itching and for suppressing the immune system which can contribute to xerotic eczema. You also want to avoid itching the area which can cause it to get worse.
One of the major complications that xerotic eczema can cause is a bacterial infection. The reason for the increased risk for bacterial infection is that barrier of the skin is compromised from the cracking of the skin. If not taken care of it could lead to conditions such as impetigo.