Now that the cold weather is beginning to creep in across much of the US, the coinciding skin conditions are flaring up once more. One of the most common skin conditions that many people, including children, suffer with is eczema. Lucky for you, October is actually Eczema Awareness Month and I recently had the opportunity to talk to a widely-recognized dermatologist about just this issue.
Dr. Jeanine B. Downie, M.D. and Director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey, (featured in Allure, InStyle, and SELF magazines among others) was kind enough to share with me some insight on not only the troubles with eczema but the troubles that come along with seasonal changes in the weather.
Board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, she is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Her reputation for excellence and personal patient care has made her one of the most sought-after physicians in our country.
After having appeared on numerous programs such as “The View,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” “Dr. Oz,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” and “Good Day New York” just to name a few, we are thrilled to now have her here on Eighty MPH Mom. Because eczema is such a prolific problem for so many families, I spent some time talking to her about how and why it occurs, tips for better caring for the skin, and what can be done to help provide some relief. Here is how everything went.
Q & A with Dr. Jeanine B. Downie
**Please note that the following answers are paraphrased for continuity**
Q: Why is it that skin is more sensitive in colder weather?
A: Once the cold weather arrives, it brings with it a lack of humidity. The decreased moisture in the air then causes a decrease in the moisture typically found within the skin. The combination of these things then causes the skin to get dry and itchy which, eventually, leads to the itch-scratch cycle that dermatologist often warn against. The itching and scratching, of course, only further damages the skin and can cause pre-existing skin issues (like eczema) to flare.
Q: What does eczema look like and where can it be found?
A: Eczema will show as an area of red (or hyper-pigmented) skin and will usually be thickened in density. It may or may not be scaly and, especially in children, you may or may not notice scratch marks. It can appear in as little as one spot or as much as one’s entire body, everyone and their body’s flare ups are different.
Q: How exactly do the colder temperatures affect skin conditions such as eczema? Many people often go symptom-free for much of the year but the cold weather often brings out and/or worsens such skin conditions. Why is that?
A: Heat throughout the year brings humidity and thus adds moisture to the air. The colder weather does the exact opposite and the lack of moisture found in the air causes the skin to dry out.
Q: How do the temperature changes, more specifically the colder temperatures, affect our skin on a deeper level? Sure, we notice the initial goosebumps and mildly dry skin, but what is going on that isn’t as obvious to the naked eye?
A: Once the skin is dry, it begins to feel itchy thus causing the urge to scratch. Once the itch-scratch cycle begins, the scratching that we do to “solve” the initial itchiness further damages the skin. When the outermost layer of our skin is damaged the body’s natural barrier is essentially in disrepair. The breaking down of the skin, especially when it is no longer intact, acts as a gateway for bacteria to enter the body.
Q: Why is it that the skin of babies and children is more sensitive than that of adults?
A: Without having had years of exposure to environmental damages (heat, sun, cold, etc.) and everyday wear and tear, children’s skin is 20% to 30% thinner and more sensitive than that of their adult counterparts.
Q: How can we best protect and care for our babies’ skin?
A: There are many ways that parents can protect their baby’s skin and, though many are common sense, there are many things that often go overlooked. Simply using fabrics such as down or cotton, being sure to utilize a detergent that is free of dyes and perfumes, putting a humidifier to use to return some moisture to the otherwise dry air, making sure to always clip and/or file baby’s nails every other day to help prevent scratching, avoiding irritants such as wool, and using a gentle lotion such as one of the many Aveeno products; all of these things will help you to better protect and care for their sensitive skin.
Q: What is it about Aveeno products, specifically the new Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm, that you like best?
A: Aveeno products are known for being one of the better lotions available on the market today. Clinically proven to prevent the recurrence of itchy patches and flare ups, the new balm has no side effects, and can be used in conjunction with other Aveeno products.
In addition to this, Dr. Downie and I further discussed the troubles with eczema and the benefits of the brand new Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm. You see, our youngest son has battled eczema flare ups for most of his life thus far and, unfortunately, we’ve yet to come across a solution for him. Dr. Downie explained to me that eczema is much more than just another skin condition but, instead, is closely linked with allergies and asthma. Caused by the same gene, all three are related and many people suffer from two or more of them simultaneously. People that have allergies and/or asthma may be predisposed to have eczema and vice versa. While there are solutions for the first two in regard to over the counter medicine and home remedies, the latter of the three can often prove to be much more difficult. I’m sure that you’re all too familiar with it; the overwhelming chaos that is the lotion isle in your nearest store. It can be quite intimidating but, thankfully, that’s where Aveeno comes in.
I have been a huge fan of Aveeno for quite some time now. Over the years, my house has quickly managed to become a bit of an Aveeno storefront in its own right with the abundance of various lotions, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, and more. While I have typically reserved these little gems for myself, we recently introduced some of the products to our children as well. Because of the kids’ sensitive skin, I am always hesitant to try new things but I trust that the Aveeno brand strives to provide families with products that are truly beneficial to the skin. What many people don’t know is that Aveeno was actually founded upon a product that has since been proven effective for people with sensitive skin and conditions such as eczema.
Founders, American inventor and philanthropist brothers Albert and Sidney Musher, were driven by a profound curiosity about how things work and how substances interact, and a belief that centuries-old remedies hold the promise for human wellness. Their experimentation with raw cereal led to the discovery of a finely milled colloidal oatmeal bath. This treatment was proven effective in skin prone to eczema by the U.S.-based, internationally renowned Mayo Clinic, where it is still used today. Drawing inspiration from avena sativa, the Latin word for oat, the Aveeno brand was born.
Knowing how well the Aveeno products work and how they are each carefully developed to care for the skin, I knew that the new Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm would follow suit.
The Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm is credited as the “first and only nighttime balm specifically formulated with Active Naturals Colloidal Oatmeal and ceramides for immediate and long-lasting itch relief.” Gentle enough for regular use of even the most sensitive skin of babies, it has been clinically proven to prevent the recurrence of flare ups and itchy patches caused often caused by eczema thus helping to allow babies a peaceful and full night’s sleep.
Having personally struggled in finding my own son relief from his eczema since birth, the launch of the new Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm came as a much needed blessing. I know all too well how horrible skin conditions such as eczema can be for little ones and it is most certainly the cause of one too many sleepless nights here in our home. From a parent’s perspective, it is often difficult to seek out and find a topical solution that actually works much less one that is beneficial to the skin. Thankfully, Aveeno has changed that.
The breakthrough formula used within the Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm not only relieves the dreaded itch in just one use but it helps to restore visibly healthier skin in just three nights! Oftentimes, statements like that can seem too good to be true so I wanted to put it to the test on my own. Although my little guy isn’t quite so “little” any longer and has long since grown out of his baby stage, I decided to give this a try on him.
His most common and problematic areas have always been his arms so we started there. As a nighttime balm and having Dr. Downie’s recommendation to use this in conjunction with other Aveeno products, we applied the Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm just after each evening’s bath (also using the Baby Eczema Therapy Soothing Bath Treatment of course). Prior to the introduction of this balm, he would dread having to apply any lotion or cream because many were simply too greasy. He’d climb into bed afterward only to have everything rub off somewhere on the blankets. With the Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm however, the Active Oat Naturals formula easily soothes dry, itchy skin without leaving a greasy feeling behind. It massaged into his skin quite nicely and left him feeling itch-free without the mess. After a few nights of making this process part of our routine, he woke up to this…
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! After years of suffering through the horrid merry-go-round that is the itch-scratch cycle and trying a seemingly infinite number of products in the hopes that something would help, we finally found the solution within the greatness of Aveeno.
In addition to the product not only meeting but exceeding my expectations, the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm is dermatologist (thank you Dr. Downie!) and pediatrician recommended, is fragrance-free, paraben-free, steroid-free, and has been allergy tested. Able to be used on the body as well as the face, it checks off every box across the board.
Although it is intended for use on babies and is specifically made for their sensitive skin, I’m so thankful and thrilled that it has finally provided my son some relief. Confident in its ability to relieve and prevent itchiness due to eczema, I am excited to now be able to share this with friends and family members whose own babies are currently suffering through it. After all, the “sleep like a baby” idiom can only be true if baby is itch-free and comfortable to sleep soundly.
Now, circling back to what Dr. Downie had mentioned in regard to eczema being a genetic condition, Aveeno has gone above and beyond by introducing an adult balm so that the whole family can get some relief.
Much like the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm, the new Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm is specifically formulated with the same Active Naturals Colloidal Oatmeal and ceramides helping to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, improving moisturization, and soothing the skin.
While I do not personally suffer from eczema, I can certainly attest to its long-lasting itch relief and non-greasy feel. And, luckily for me, soft itch-free skin goes perfectly with an adult version of that “sleep like a baby” kind of rest. Surely, it goes perfectly with cuddling up with a cozy blanket on these cold almost-winter nights.
Including the two new balms, Aveeno was kind enough to send me a collection of goodies to further support the awareness of and relief for eczema.
Touching base on what Dr. Downie had recommended in regard to utilizing skin-friendly fabrics especially during the colder times of the year, my package included two super soft blankets to coincide with the idea of getting a good night’s rest while free of eczema flare itchiness.
Also included in the box was a darling little children’s book to help young kids understand that it’s okay to have skin conditions like eczema. The book, “The Dry-ventures of Ellie & Eddie” highlights various situations like combating the heat, spending time at family bonfires, and receiving knitted sweaters from kind-hearted aunts, all of which can cause a skin condition like eczema to flare up. Young Ellie ends her night with a lovely little tune reminding kids to use lotions and creams (and balms!) like the new Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm so that they can sleep snuggly.
Last but not least, they sent along a beautiful handmade dream catcher (kudos to Indica Design!) to further push the idea that soft, itch-free, cared for skin leads to a relaxing night’s sleep. Without any eczema-related flares (or not so great dreams) there to wake you or your little ones from your slumber, you’ll all wake well-rested and ready to greet the morning sun.
Between the release of the new Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm and the Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm, Aveeno has the entire family covered this season. Here’s to hoping that you, too, can “sleep like a baby.”
You can purchase both the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm and the Eczema Therapy Itch Balm as well as many other Aveeno products from many retailers (Target, Amazon, etc.) both online and in stores nationwide. Pricing for the 11-ounce containers showcased here are currently set at $17.99 for the Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm and $16.99 for the Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm.
Be sure to keep up with Aveeno on their social media pages so that you can stay up to date with all of the latest news, new product releases, special sale pricing, and so much more!
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