Buying a Humidifier for Eczema: Everything You Need to Know
Eczema affects nearly 32 million Americans. Are you one of them?
If so, you know how uncomfortable and isolating the condition can be. When your skin becomes dry, itchy and inflamed, it might seem as though nothing can calm it.
You've tried the creams, lotions, and prescriptions, but have you considered using a humidifier for eczema?
This common household device presents a powerful weapon against the constant irritation that's bothering you: moisture.
Today, we're taking a closer look at how your humidifier can act as the much-needed skin soother you need. Read on to discover the many ways to use this device to unlock daily relief.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is an overarching term used to describe a range of medical conditions that can lead to skin that's:
In all, there are seven different types of eczema. One in 10 people will develop at least one of these forms in their lifetime. In most cases, the condition usually peaks at childhood, though seniors are also susceptible.
Let's take a closer look at the different types.
Atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema that occurs when a malfunction in your immune system leads to problems with your skin barrier. The main symptom is a red, itchy rash that normally appears on the arms and behind the knees.
Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into direct contact with an allergen that irritates it, causing it to become red and itchy. Some of the most common triggers include soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, plants, and jewelry.
Dyshidrotic eczema also occurs when your skin comes into direct contact with an allergen. Instead of a red rash, this condition leads to itchy, inflamed blisters on your hands and feet.
Also known as Lichen simplex chronicus (LSC), neurodermatitis is a form of eczema that leads to raised, rough, itchy patches on your skin. It's normally caused by excessive skin rubbing, itching, or scratching.
Nummular eczema is also called discoid eczema because it's characterized by small, round patches of irritated skin that resemble discs.
In most cases, these spots will occur as a result of allergen contact. Excessive dryness can also trigger the lesions. Especially in older populations, these spots can often leak fluid.
Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by white or yellow patches of skin that can become greasy and oily.
It's usually concentrated in areas of your body where you have a high concentration of oil-producing glands. These can include your scalp, the sides of your nose, and between your eyebrows. The condition is attributed to a mixture of genetics, hormones, and the microorganisms that live on your skin.
Most common in seniors, stasis dermatitis occurs when poor circulation causes the veins in your legs to swell and leak fluid. When this occurs, the skin around your veins can swell and become red and itchy.
Common Treatments for Eczema
There is no cure for eczema, though there are many ways that people with this condition can help keep their symptoms at bay.
To manage the condition, there are a few steps you can take. Let's review some of the most common ones.
Avoiding Your Triggers
Most often, it will take an initial outbreak of eczema to know which specific allergens trigger your symptoms. For instance, you might break out on your wrist after wearing a watch and discover you have a nickel allergy.
Once you know your triggers, try to avoid them as much as possible. This can help minimize your outbreaks and reduce your reactions.
Bathing and Moisturizing Regularly
Establishing and maintaining a regular bathing and moisturizing routine is critical when you have eczema. Not only does it relieve any itching, but it can also help minimize any symptoms of dryness that occur.
For the best results, look for soaps and lotions specially labeled for sensitive skin or eczema.
Over-the-Counter or Prescription Medicine
If your eczema is severe, your doctor might recommend medicated lotions or ointments. Many of these are available over the counter, although some high-strength ones will require a prescription.
An eczema outbreak can become serious if the skin near the sore or rash becomes infected. If you suffer from this condition, it's important to keep the affected areas clean to prevent this from occurring. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Pain at the site
- Pus-filled bumps
While the spot might be irritated, it's important not to scratch or rub the affected skin. Dress as often as you can in lightweight, breathable clothing and avoid tight-fitting or itchy fabrics such as wool, which can make your condition worse.
Why Use a Humidifier for Eczema?
Have you noticed that your eczema tends to flare up more in the wintertime than any other season of the year?
This is because when the temperature dips, both the indoor and outdoor air around you become zapped of their natural water vapor, leading to lower humidity levels. At the same time, homeowners tend to blast forced-air heat through their central HVAC systems to stay warm.
You might also go to work in a drying, air-conditioned office all day. Then, you come home and run a space heater in your bedroom to knock off the chill.
Thus, it's no surprise that you wake up to a dry, scratchy throat, clogged nasal passages, along with the telltale signs of eczema: dry, flaky, itchy skin.
This is where a humidifier comes in.
Sustained, Consistent Moisture
While there are many different kinds of humidifiers on the market today, they all serve the same basic aim: to put moisture back into your air.
They do so by taking the liquid water you pour into the tank and turning it into water vapor. Then, they emit this vapor into the air via the nozzle on your device. This action causes the relative humidity levels in your home to increase.
Relative humidity refers to the amount of moisture in your air at any given time compared to the maximum amount of moisture it can hold.
For instance, a relative humidity level of 40% means that you still have 60% to go until you reach total capacity. However, a level of 100% means that you've maximized your capacity. Any more humidity, and it will begin to precipitate in your home!
Most experts agree that relative humidity levels between 40% and 60% are the most comfortable for our homes. If yours dip below that threshold, it can strip your skin of the valuable moisture it needs to defend itself against an eczema outbreak.
If your levels are too high, they can encourage the growth of dangerous mold and bacteria. They can also cause your room to feel damp, heavy and clammy, which can aggravate your eczema symptoms.
Not sure where your levels stand? A handy hygrometer can measure them for you in an instant and is easy to find at any major hardware store.
If you suffer from eczema, consider running a humidifier for your bedroom, home office or any room in your home where you spend a lot of time. This can help your skin stay moisturized, so you can defend it against the woes of an outbreak.
You could apply bottles of lotion to your skin for days, but the sustained, consistent moisture provided by a humidifier is constantly churning for hours while you sleep, delivering more effective relief.
One of the most common signs of an eczema outbreak is open, cracked skin. This is one of the reasons why infections are so common with this condition, as the open wound is vulnerable to the spread of bacteria and other germs.
When you run a humidifier, you help keep the skin around your affected area smooth, soft and supple. This encourages quicker healing and helps you avoid the risk of infection.
When your skin heals quicker, you can also keep other allergens out. This helps prevent an allergic flare-up and allows you to resume normal life as soon as possible.
What to Consider When You Buy
Rather than rushing out and buying the first humidifier you see, it's important to do your research, first. By considering the factors below, you can rest assured that you're making the right decision for yourself and your family.
Choose the Right Size
Do you plan to increase the moisture levels in multiple locations throughout your home? If so, a whole-house humidifier can deliver the large-scale uptick you need.
Also called in-duct humidifiers, these work similarly to your home's central heating system. The tanks are large and refillable, and the entire unit is essentially a jumbo-sized version of a portable humidifier. You can find some models that tie into your home's central water supply, so you don't have to refill them with water every day.
On the other hand, if you only plan to run your humidifier at night in your bedroom, a more affordable portable unit will do the trick! You can easily move these devices from one room to the next. In some cases, you can even find different-sized tanks meant to accommodate small or medium-sized rooms.
Decide Between Cool-Mist and Warm-Mist
Let's narrow it down right now: If you have children or active pets in your home, a warm-mist humidifier is never recommended. These include an internal heating mechanism that boils water within the tank, then releases it as visible steam throughout your room.
If the device becomes knocked over for any reason, it can present a significant burn hazard. For that reason, we recommend cool-mist humidifiers if you're looking for a unit that the whole family can use and enjoy.
Cool-mist humidifiers don't boil the water. Rather, they simply vaporize it, usually via a bulit-in fan. The air is released through the nozzle as an invisible, cool mist.
While some cool-mist models can be noisy, there's one kind that isn't. These are called ultrasonic humidifiers, and they create water droplets through the use of a central diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency. As they don't require a fan, these units are almost silent to operate!
In general, cool-mist humidifiers are safer to use for an extended period of time. They're also more economical, especially when you consider the costs associated with heating your water to boiling level all night long!
Find a Model That's Easy to Clean
Your humidifier is designed to work for you, but it can do just the opposite if you fail to keep it cleaned and maintained. If you have eczema, a sanitary humidifier is essential to managing your condition.
It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when cleaning to ensure against damage to your unit. In most cases, a daily wipe-down and water change, coupled with a more thorough weekly clean, is enough to keep germs at bay.
At the very least, remember to switch out your water with every use. If possible, it's also best to use distilled or demineralized water rather than tap water. This way, you'll reduce the number of minerals released back into your air and keep your unit as clean as possible.
Today, you can find some premium humidifiers that come equipped with self-cleaning features, including UV cleansing technologies and germ-resistant plastics. While this is a nice-to-have feature, it shouldn't discourage you from being diligent about your cleaning routine.
Manage Your Eczema with a Home Humidifier
If you suffer from eczema, you already have enough on your plate. Learning and avoiding your triggers, caring for your skin and avoiding an outbreak can get exhausting.
You shouldn't have to spend weeks researching the best humidifier for eczema. Instead, you should be able to go straight to the source.
That's where we come in.
We're experts in the home comfort space, and our ultrasonic humidifier is the top of the line. Take a look at our full collection of products today and get in touch if you have any questions!