Did you know low temperatures can lead to an increase of atopic dermatitis outbreaks?
This time, we want to warn you about the consequences of winter arrival since, as seasons change, people affected by atopic dermatitis may suffer more outbreaks.
If you continue reading this article, you will discover:
- Why low temperatures weaken your skin.
- What effects cold could produce on your skin.
- How to avoid an outbreak of atopic dermatitis.
How do low temperatures weaken your skin?
Cold and dry climates, unlike tropical and humid climates, increase skin sensitivity. For this reason, during autumn and winter months a greater number of outbreaks are registered in people with sensitive skin or atopic dermatitis.
Eczema plaques can be easily identified because the skin is dry, scaly, and has a reddish hue. But then, what is happening at a cellular level?
What happens in skin cells?
The skin is a laminated structure that serves as a protective barrier, and it is deteriorated in the case of sensitive skin.
Under winter conditions, the epidermis cells release specialized molecules that generate an immune response to eradicate the cold aggression. Sensory neurons that innervate the skin are activated by these molecules and, thus, the body detects the sensation of itching, pain or burning. Then scratching occurs and, with it, a new outbreak of eczema could appear. In this way, a vicious circle starts: scratching leads to more itchiness; and the more itching, the more scratching.
Moreover, vasoconstriction occur, leading to a reduced blood flow to the dermis. Consequently, the flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells decreases, and the lack of resources delays cell renewal. As a consequence, more dead cells accumulate in the outermost layer of the epidermis and the skin appears dry and tight.
In addition to the effects caused by low temperatures, the wind associated with these climatic conditions favors dryness and flaking.
What is more, the contrast between the cold outside and the high temperatures reached by heating inside home and at work contribute to our sensory system being constantly activated, which further aggravates itching on atopic skin.
What are the consequences of cold weather?
After analyzing the skin behavior during winter months, it is clear that an outbreak is the first consequence of cold, but it is not the only one.
As you already know, the skin is the largest organ in the body and has various functions. One of the most important is to serve as a barrier against infectious microorganisms and environmental aggressions.
When low temperatures alter the skin, dehydrating it, its protective function is highly affected. Therefore, it is more susceptible to perceive other damages, for instance, infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
Furthermore, eczema flare-ups can lead to psychological complications such as insomnia, lack of self-esteem or stress. The latter is, in turn, a factor that favors premature skin aging, as you can read here.
Skin problems are really complex and interrelated, that is why it is important to take a daily care of the skin. But what is the best way to do it?
How could we avoid outbreaks of atopic dermatitis in winter?
The Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV) also warns about the risks of cold for skin, mainly for atopic skin, and recommends to follow the next tips to avoid outbreaks during autumn and winter months:
- Wear cotton garments that protect your skin from cold and wind.
- Avoid temperature contrasts, remember that high temperatures dry out your skin as much as low ones.
- Hydrate your skin daily with products that are free of perfumes and irritating agents.
- Avoid washing your hands excessively, as long as you do not compromise public health in times of COVID-19.
- Avoid long hot showers, as well as the use of sponges.
- Use soaps designed for sensitive skin.
- Pay attention to the exogenous factors that could favor dermatitis: diet, pollutants, tobacco, stress…
- Use products that strengthen your skin and help to prevent the appearance of eczema in sensitive areas.
At Prospera Biotech we rely on neurodermatological research to develop neurocosmetic products specifically designed for the care of sensitive skin. Do you want to know them?
- Qué opinan los expertos sobre el frío y la piel del paciente atópico. Pediatopic. 2021.
- Dermatitis atópica: hidratación y plan de cuidados. RIUCV. 2007.
- Huang E, et al. Severe Atopic Dermatitis in Children. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2018 May 10;18(6):35.
- Sroka-Tomaszewska J, et al. Atopic dermatitis – intensification of skin ailments in autumn and winter. Lekarz POZ. 2020;6(5):259-264.
- La piel y el frío: diez consejos. AEDV. 2015.