Avoid a Christmas Eczema Flare – Tips from the Experts

Christmas is a time that many eczema sufferers dread. Not because they do not like all the festivities (obviously), but because of potential problems associated with increased environmental exposure to the ever-present fragrance, fireside nights and central heating.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing to allow home visits, Christmas is a time when family and friends may call. We want the house to be clean, warm and smell nice. Sometimes our best efforts inadvertently pose challenges for people with eczema.

How clean is too clean?!

Cleaning products can act as irritants that may exacerbate eczema. Unfortunately the housework has to be done. So:

  • Choose non-fragranced cleaning products
  • Avoid sprays and aerosols
  • Always wear hypoallergenic gloves for housework.

Smells and bells

Fragrance is a very common trigger for contact allergy. At Christmas we need to be more mindful of potential exposure to the chemicals that make up artificial fragrances. We may think that fragrance is only in perfume, but it is hidden in cleaning products, cosmetics, candles and air-fresheners.

Summary

Fragrance is a very common trigger for contact allergy. We may think that fragrance is only in perfume, but it is hidden in cleaning products, cosmetics, candles and air-fresheners.

Candles and flares

Scented candles look nice and make the house smell pleasant, but they can cause burning, stinging and itching of the skin and irritate the eyes.
Plug in air-fresheners make the house smell fresh, but the fragrance emitted into the environment can be another trigger for an eczema flare.

Open fires, stoves and central heating

Central heating can be a major problem for drying the skin all year around, but at Christmas we’re often indoors for prolonged periods – and our can become very, very dried out!

  • Do not overheat the house
  • Consider turning the temperature down
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

New sparkly clothes???

Remember to choose your outfits carefully!

  • Choose natural breathable fabrics
  • Avoid wool and mohair
  • Sparkly clothes or face masks with sparkly fibres may irritate the skin. Make sure your face mask is cotton lined!
  • Try to avoid tight fitting synthetic fabrics that may overheat the skin and irritate it

Summary

At Christmas we’re often indoors with the central heating on for prolonged periods – remember not to overheat the house and to moisturise! Choose natural breathable fabrics and avoid wool, mohair, synthetic fabrics and sparkly clothes or masks!

Presents for people with eczema

When buying presents for a friend or family member with eczema, avoid buying perfume or cosmetics unless you know they have used the product without any problems. If you are buying a face mask for someone with eczema this year, choose cotton or silk fabric!

First published in December 2018, updated in December 2020


For more information about atopic dermatitis and eczema, visit our eczema information page , or download our eczema booklet .If you need help or guidance about managing your eczema, contact the ISF Helpline or call (01) 486-6280.

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