Guard against winter allergies

Last Updated : 15 January 2010, 12:27 IST
Last Updated : 15 January 2010, 12:27 IST

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Some of the skin related conditions which get aggravated during winter include:

1. Atopic dermatitis, which is a skin-related manifestation of atopy or routine allergy. This condition can affect people of any age — from infants to adults — with skin lesions ranging from mild patchy localised dermatitis to frank eczema, and is associated with an increased incidence of secondary bacterial infections.

2. Asteatotic eczema or winter itch. This is a common condition which affects the lower extremities, associated with itching and scaly lesions. These lesions are especially common in elderly people and rarely progress to frank eczematous lesions.

3. Another skin lesion associated with this condition is nummular eczema, which manifests as coin-shaped lesions over the legs which are chronically itchy, troublesome and frequently flare up and regress.

4. Psoriasis. This is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder associated with dry, itchy erythematous plaque-like lesions over the body and scalp with extensive scaling. The itchiness and scaling of these lesions are known to aggravate in winter, mainly on account of excessive dryness of skin during this season.

5. Seborrhea/ seborrhoiec dermatitis/dandruff. These related skin and hair conditions worsen in winter when the skin turns excessively dry.

6. Cracking of soles and associated secondary (either bacterial or fungal) infections also worsen with the onset of winter and are extremely painful too.
Most of the above mentioned conditions need to be carefully managed. Avoid the use of harsh soaps and use skin creams for their moisturising effect to prevent the main aggravating factor which is  excessive dryness. Skin creams may be applied liberally over the affected area immediately after a bath. They work best when applied when the skin
is still a little moist.

Skin and foot care is especially important in patients with associated conditions like diabetes and peripheral vascular diseases, wherein the blood supply to the lower limbs is compromised. Any worsening of skin lesions in this sub set of patients is potentially dangerous and at times can progress to bad secondary infections, cellulitis and gangrene itself, if not treated promptly.

Breathe easy

Respiratory illnesses are known to frequently flare up during winter months. Frequent upper respiratory infections including rhinitis, tonsillopharyngitis and sinusitis affect the general population in extreme cold conditions.  These common conditions should be treated immediately to prevent further aggravation to forms of lower respiratory tract infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.

Most of these infections are either viral or bacterial and are treated with decongestants, occasional requirement of antibiotics and use of non pharmacological measures like steam inhalation/warm fluid hydration etc.

Patients with chronic respiratory problems like asthma and COPD have a difficult time in winter because of a sudden dip in late night and early morning temperatures.

Worsening of these conditions are generally avoidable with regular use of their inhaled therapy and even increasing doses for symptomatic prevention of infections, prompt treatment of minor infections, use of warm clothing and other such measures.

Published 15 January 2010, 12:27 IST

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