Humidity and Eczema: What You Should Know

According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), approximately 31.6 million people in the United States suffer from the skin condition known as eczema, 17.8 million of which have moderate-to-severe eczema. This all-too-common condition is characterized by the formation of rough, inflamed patches of skin that often include blisters. While there’s no known cure for eczema (yet), knowing and understanding the role humidity plays in this condition may offer some relief.

If you suffer from eczema – whether it’s acute or severe – you should pay close attention to the humidity levels in your home and place of work. Humidity is defined as the total amount of moisture vapor in a section of air. If the air is “humid” is has a high concentration of moisture vapor. If the air is not humid, it has a low concentration of moisture vapor.

The National Eczema Association notes that exposure to low humidity encourages the skin to dry out. Our skin is comprised of nearly 70% water. When we expose ourselves to dry air, this moisture literally evaporates into the air, resulting in dry skin. While everyone is susceptible to skin dryness, people with eczema are particularly sensitive to its effects. One of the telltale symptoms of eczema is skin dryness. So conventional wisdom should tell you to avoid environments with low humidity, as the dry air will further deplete your skin of valuable moisture.

Other tips for managing eczema:

  • When washing your skin and face, use lukewarm water instead of hot water. While it may feel pleasant, hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, which subsequently leads to further dryness and irritation.
  • Choose soaps and skincare products with the fewest amount of ingredients possible. Many products contain harsh chemicals and compounds that can trigger allergic reactions in people with eczema.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or lotion to your skin once a day, preferably after you shower or bathe.
  • Wear a high-SPF sunscreen lotion when staying outdoors for 30 minutes or longer. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can wreck havoc on the skin, worsening existing conditions such as eczema.
  • No matter how bad it itches, avoid the temptation of scratching eczema bumps, as this may lead to infection.
  • Consider using a humidifier in your home and/or place of work to help control the symptoms of eczema.

You might also be interested in…