Jeanine Downie, MD has dealt with eczema her entire life. “Eczema, for me, gets worse in the winter,” she says. “You need to pay attention to when it’s worse and stop scratching it.” That’s because rubbing eczematic skin makes it more inflamed and itchier, so you’ve got to be vigilant about breaking the itch-scratch cycle.
To do so, Dr. Downie, who is a board-certified dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, and the founder of Image Dermatology, follows a winter body routine that keeps moisture high and itchiness low. Learn about her favorite products and the best tips that she uses to manage her eczema below.
9 ways Dr. Downie cares for her body as a dermatologist with eczema
1. Uses a moisturizing unscented body wash
“I am a moisture baby so I like the Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash ($11) and the Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash ($9) because a lot of the others make my skin itch and dry it out significantly,” says Dr. Downie. In addition to skin-nourishing washes, you want to make sure you’re keeping the temperature of your showers low. “I only take lukewarm showers—even if you don’t have eczema you shouldn’t be taking hot showers” because they dry out your skin, says Dr. Downie.
Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash — $9.00
This fragrance-free body wash combines a combination of skin-natural nourishers and plant-based moisturizers to pamper sensitive skin while gently cleansing.
2. Stays moisturized
As soon as Dr. Downie gets out of the shower, she’s slathering on either the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($12) or the Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm ($20). Both are fragrance-free (a must for eczematic skin) and are rich in hydrating and soothing ingredients like glycerin, niacinamide, and colloidal oats.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream — $12.00
This fragrance-free cream instantly replenishes, nourishes, and soothes skin dryness for up to 48 hours with hydrating glycerin and vitamins B5 along with soothing niacinamide. It’s been clinically proven to restore your moisture barrier within one week.
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm — $20.00
Colloidal oatmeal and ceramides allow this balm to provide immediate and long-lasting itch relief
by moisturizing and soothing skin. It’s so good that it’s been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Approval.
3. Seals in moisture with body oil
Once the cream is on, Dr. Downie seals in all that moisture with either Johnson’s Baby Oil Fragrance-Free ($19) or Aveeno Skin Relief Shower & Bath Oil ($19).
Johnson Baby Oil Fragrance-free — $19.00
This fragrance-free mineral oil from Johnson’s is hard to find stateside, but this one from Japan does the trick. It’ll moisturize your skin without a lick of fragrance.
4. Sleeps with a humidifier
“I recommend that people with eczema sleep with a free-standing humidifier in the bedroom,” says Dr. Downie. “It adds moisture to your skin, hair, and nails.” The Canopy Humidifier ($150) is a wonderful option.
Canopy Humidifier — $150.00
This cute but mighty humidifier hydrates room up to 500 square feet. By infusing the air with super-fine water molecules, it promotes healthy skin, nails, and hair and alleviates symptoms of cold and flu. Plus, the parts are dishwasher-safe, making it a breeze to clean.
5. Stays far away from hand sanitizer
Especially when the air is old and dry, “absolutely no hand sanitizer—it’s just going to make your hands look like the back of a turtle,” says Dr. Downie. Opt for washes in lukewarm water with gentle soap and plenty of hand lotion.
6. Takes antihistamines when itching is really bad
When your skin is itching non-stop, Dr. Downie says taking an antihistamine like Claratin can work wonders. “It’s going to reduce the itching which will ultimately reduce what lesions you have on your skin because you’re not going to scratch as much,” she says.
7. Keeps her nails short
Another way to break the itch-scratch cycle? Take away your nails, the most-readily available scratching tool.
8. Maintains a solid exercise regime
“With eczema, psoriasis, and a thousand other skin disorders, you’re better off exercising,” says Dr. Downie. She explains that exercise can help keep your stress levels low, which decreases inflammation in the body and reduces the appearance of these conditions. That’s why she exercises regularly. Worried about sweat causing irritation? Just be sure to shower the second you finish your workout. “Exercise is gonna decrease your stress levels and boost your circulation,” helping to keep eczema flares down.
9. Skips perfume
Even though fragrance is typically an eczema no-no, Dr. Downie still loves to use perfume. “But when my eczema is bad in the winter I don’t wear perfume,” she says.
Get more tips for dry winter skin:
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