Why does dermatitis get worse in winter and what to do about it

With the onset of cold weather, skin problems appear. Trying to cope with them, people go to the pharmacy without visiting a dermatologist. In order not to get complications, it is important to distinguish the reaction of healthy tissues to cold from the manifestation of dangerous dermatological diseases.

Why the cold is dangerous

Frozen skin is easier to injure, it becomes dry, prone to irritation.

  1. Low temperatures cause spasm of the small blood vessels that feed the epidermis. This leads to a slowdown in metabolic processes in cells.
  2. The sebaceous glands work worse, which should protect the integumentary tissues from hypothermia.
  3. Cold air dries out the dermis, makes it less elastic, increases the tendency of the epidermis to slough off.

People with dry skin types, children under 10 years of age, elderly adults, people with diseases of the digestive system, and a reduced function of the thyroid gland suffer more severely.

Atopic dermatitis in the hands and face in winter

Serious changes are most often caused by this disease. In winter, it may appear for the first time. Outwardly, it looks like red spots of different sizes, cracks, against the background of rough, flaky skin. Bubbles and crusts often appear. The rash is accompanied by itching, a feeling of tightness . Scratches and scuffs become inflamed. A bacterial infection may join, which will aggravate the severity of the disease, complicate treatment.

Atopic dermatitis worsens in winter in adults and children. The reason is a decrease in regeneration, the protective properties of the epidermis due to the action of low temperature and dry air. 

Not only open areas of the body are affected, but also places hidden under clothing: elbows, knees, thighs. In 5-15% of cases, rash and peeling on the palms are found only in winter.

How to distinguish from cold allergies

This hereditary disease is manifested by the rash of blisters with uneven edges – like urticaria. When pressed, the spots turn pale. There is severe itching, burning throughout the body, sometimes swelling of the throat, abdominal pain along the intestines. An allergist will diagnose, after a specific examination.

The reason for this allergy is considered to be the instability of mast cell membranes (a type of leukocytes), the release of high doses of histamine by them under the influence of cold.

A test with a piece of ice will help to suspect cold urticaria: if you apply ice, after 1-2 minutes a characteristic spot will appear on this place.

Treatment is carried out with antihistamines.

Contact dermatitis in children in winter

The child came after a walk, on the arms and under the eyes there are red spots and abrasions that resemble abrasions. It is contact dermatitis, a common problem in industrial cities. Three factors are combined here at once: cold, chemical impurities in the air, friction with wet mittens, a scarf.

It is good when the wounds heal in warmth, after moisturizing with creams containing panthenol . But these rashes can be the beginning of an atopic process, a manifestation of food allergies, diseases of the nasopharynx or digestive organs.

It is necessary to show the baby to a dermatologist. The performed diagnostics – dermatoscopy , measurement of skin pH, blood tests, examination of internal organs – will help determine the diagnosis.

Treatment of winter exacerbation of dermatitis

Apply a complex effect.

Physical methods:

Combination of regimen, nutrition, care:

  • elimination of cold contact: dress warmly, avoid using cold water, eating ice cream, cold drinks;
  • fight against drying out of the epidermis: daily baths, humidifying the air in rooms, lubricating hands, the whole body with moisturizing creams with dexpanthenol , allantoin, complexes of ceramides and omega fatty acids;
  • daily wet cleaning;
  • elimination of household allergens;
  • hypoallergenic diet.

Lubricate the skin with oily protective creams 1.5-2 hours before going outside, since they contain up to 25% water, which will increase hypothermia.

Thermal methods of physiotherapy help well: ozokerite, therapeutic mud.

Medicinal methods:

Connection of anti-inflammatory drugs:

  • glucocorticosteroids (GCS): methylprednisolone , hydrocortisone, triamcinalone ;
  • calcineurin inhibitors : therapy with tacrolimus , pimecrolimus ;
  • antihistamines: preparations of loratadine , doxylamine succinate ;
  • antibacterial and antifungal medicines – if a secondary infection has joined.

Only a doctor can prescribe treatment. His advice is also needed for the choice of caring creams and emulsions. During an exacerbation, medications are taken daily. When symptoms subside, the dose is reduced. Water treatments, softening, moisturizing the skin should be carried out every day during the cold season.

event_note June 2, 2021

account_box Dr. Peter B Milburn

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