How To Safely Use Humidifiers To Help With Eczema Breakouts

Ile Kauppila

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Ile Kauppila

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Josh Mitchell

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Eczema can be a nightmare. I have a relative who suffers really badly from allergies that cause her eczema and dry skin.

I once suggested that she might want to try using a humidifier for eczema. She was hesitant at first but what do you know — it helped her a lot!

A humidifier can help you with your eczema as well. In this guide, I will explain how a humidifier can benefit your eczema-prone skin.

Key Takeaways
  • Yes, a humidifier can help relieve eczema symptoms by keeping the skin hydrated.
  • Humidifiers help in reducing contaminants and allergens in the air thus reducing triggers that can exacerbate eczema.

Will A Humidifier Help With Your Eczema Outbreaks?

A humidifier can help with eczema! My relative has gotten some much-needed relief.

Humidifier can keep your skin moisturized

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, characterized by dry, cracked skin and infections.

I’ve detailed here how a humidifier can relieve these eczema symptoms.

1. Moisturizes Dry Skin

Dry air, whether due to desert heat or cold winter, can dry out your skin. (1)

Evaporating moisture removes the natural oils that act as a skin barrier to protect you.

Using a humidifier adds moisture to the air, negating the effects of dry weather.

The higher humidity level can prevent dry skin, which soothes existing and avoids new eczema flare-ups.

Important Note:

The ideal home humidity level is between 40%-60%, but people with eczema may want to aim at the upper end of that scale.

However, I recommend buying a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in your home, as too high humidity can encourage dust mites and mold growth that will irritate your skin further.

TL;DR: The primary benefit of a humidifier is that it keeps your skin moistened without having to use lotions every now and then.

2. Helps Combat Contaminants And Diseases

Airborne pollutants or other contaminants can irritate even healthy skin, but if you have eczema, they can cause a massive flare-up.

If your skin is already raw, viral particles could even result in infection.

What are the Optimal Humidity Levels
Healthy humidity levels in the 40%-60% range have been shown to reduce the numbers of all airborne viruses, bacteria, and spores. (2)

Using a humidifier can help you prevent eczema flare-ups from infection and manage symptoms of eczema (and any other skin conditions).

TL;DR: Optimal humidity levels help keep diseases, viruses and other pathogens in check which can irritate your skin.

3. Reduces Allergens In The Air

Allergies are a very common eczema trigger (as is the case with my relatives).

Adding moisture to the air can lower the number of airborne allergens.

With enough moisture, water vapor condenses around allergens like dust, pollen, and pet dander, weighing them down.

The heavy particles will descend to the floor and other surfaces, which makes it easy to vacuum and wipe them up.

TL;DR: By weighing the particles in the air down, humidifiers can help reduce airborne dust and pathogens.

4. Alleviates Stress Levels That Trigger Eczema

Believe it or not, stress can cause eczema flare-ups by lowering your immune system’s effectiveness.

A humidifier can contribute to a more relaxing and soothing home environment.

I have asthma, so I know very well how important easy breathing is for your well-being.

Ideal humidity levels make indoor air easier to breathe, which can help you sit down and relax after a hard day, avoiding eczema-inducing stress.

TL;DR: Optimal humidity can sooth you physically thus reducing your stress level which is a known trigger for eczema.

How Different Types Of Humidifiers Can Benefit Eczema

There are many types of humidifiers available and each of them works on eczema a bit differently.

Types of humidifiers

I’ve explained how different humidifiers can help with eczema so you can choose the right one for you.

Warm Mist – Ideal Option For Eczema But Are Unsafe

Warm mist humidifiers (also called vaporizers) boil water to humidify the air through warm steam.

Boiling the water destroys pathogens that could cause eczema on sensitive skin, so they can be a good option for people with eczema.

However, warm mist humidifiers can cause burns, so you must use them with care.

I don’t recommend using a warm mist humidifier if you have small children or pets.

Important Note:

Humidifiers are not a replacement for air purifiers. If your skin is highly sensitive to dust and pathogens in the air, an air purifier is also recommended. You can use both air purifier and a humidifier together.

Cool Mist – No Hot Parts

Cool mist humidifiers increase humidity through cold water vapor.

They produce the mist through various methods, and I will cover the most popular cool mist humidifier types below.

I would recommend cool mist humidifiers for people with eczema.

They’re safer than warm mist units, they consume less power, and they can be very effective.

There are two common types of cool mist humidifiers:

  1. Ultrasonic Humidifiers
  2. Evaporative Humidifiers

TL;DR: The primary difference between cool and warm mist humidifiers is that the former does not boil water to produce mist, the latter does. 

1. Ultrasonic Humidifier – Uses Vibrating Plates

Ultrasonic humidifiers are my favorite cool mist units.

They break water into tiny droplets with a vibrating plate and emit a fine mist into the air.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are quiet and very effective, but they generally have no filters.

Make sure to use distilled or demineralized water in them, as impurities in tap water could irritate eczema-prone skin.

2. Evaporative Humidifiers – Uses Fan And A Wicking Filter

Evaporative humidifiers suck water into a wicking filter. A fan blows cool air over the wick, which evaporates the water and humidifies the air.

ultrasonic vs evaporative humidifiers
The wick traps waterborne impurities which can help prevent eczema symptoms.

This is why my relatives prefer evaporative humidifiers. That said, evaporative units can be noisy because of the fan, and they require regular filter changes.

Whole-House Humidifiers

A whole-house humidifier is installed into your home’s HVAC system to restore moisture throughout the house.

They can be awesome choices if you live in a region prone to extreme heat (like I do) or very cold weather.

Whole-house units, also known as furnace humidifiers, can be expensive to buy and maintain.

You will likely need an HVAC professional to carry out annual maintenance tasks on the humidifier.

TL;DR: When you need your entire home humidifier, you can install whole house humidifiers to your existing HVAC system.

How Does Winter Affect Eczema?

Winter is the most difficult time of year for many people with eczema, like my relatives. There are a few key reasons why:

  • Drop In Temperature
    Dropping temperatures in winter can impact and irritate your skin. Like any sudden temperature change, this can result in dry, sensitive, and itchy skin.
  • Increase Dry Air
    The ambient humidity levels fall in winter. The dry air saps moisture from your skin, which makes eczema symptoms worse and can trigger flare-ups.
  • Typical Winter Clothing
    Thick winter clothing is often made out of rough materials that can irritate your skin. Instead of wool, I recommend looking for soft breathable fabrics, like organic cotton. (3)
  • Common Winter Infections And Diseases
    Cold and flu are much more common in winter, and these sicknesses can aggravate eczema. Be conscious about where and who you spend time with and avoid anyone with clear flu or cold symptoms of illness.

Eczema Treatments Explained For Sufferers

Did you know more than 31.6 million in the U.S. alone have eczema? (4) It’s a common ailment, and experts have put a lot of research into it.

Humidifiers are just one way to treat eczema. I’ve listed here some other simple ways to manage your eczema symptoms.

Avoid The Common Triggers

Avoiding triggers is perhaps the most important way to keep your eczema at bay.

The triggers are different for every person, so I can’t tell you exactly what you should do.

Pay attention to what causes your eczema to act up and steer clear of it, whether it’s certain foods, stress, or very dry air.

Bathe & Moisturize Regularly

Dry skin is not just a symptom of eczema — it can also be a trigger.

Bathe regularly to keep your skin clean and apply a moisturizer immediately after drying yourself.

Restrict your showers or baths to 5-10 minutes as soaking for a long time actually dries your skin out.

Over-The-Counter Or Prescription Medicine

For severe or widespread eczema, your doctor may prescribe medication to manage it.

There are also different over-the-counter medicines you can get without a prescription.

Important Note:

Doctor's consultation is highly advised before using any lotions or medicines.

Prevent Infections

Eczema causes raw and cracked skin that can allow infections to enter your body.

I know the itch is terrible, but try to avoid scratching your skin.

If you start to see any redness, soreness, or pus around your rash, contact a doctor immediately.

TL;DR: Identifying your personal triggers, keeping your skin moisturized and consultation with doctor for prescription or over-the-counter medicine can help you manage your eczema. 

FAQs

What Are The Various Types Of Eczema?

There are 7 main types of eczema — atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. (5)

What Is The Root Cause Of Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is unknown. According to current understanding eczema is the result of an overactive immune system reacting to genetic and environmental factors.

Why Is Eczema Worse At Night?

Eczema gets worse at night because your body stops producing a natural steroid called cortisol.

Our bodies produce cortisol during the day, but its levels drop at night, which aggravates eczema.

Does A Dehumidifier Help With Eczema?

Dehumidifiers can help with eczema if you live in a region with humid weather year-round.

However, you must be careful with dehumidifiers because too-dry air could make your eczema even worse.

Does Humidity Make Eczema Worse?

Both too high and low humidity can make your eczema symptoms worse.

Monitor the humidity in your home with a hygrometer and use a humidifier to control air moisture.

So, Keep Eczema In Check With Humidifiers

Being proactive is one of the best ways to treat eczema. This condition is often due to the environmental conditions around you, so controlling those conditions is key to well-moisturized and itch-free skin.

A humidifier can be a fantastic tool in relieving eczema problems caused by dry air.

I hope my guide helps you find a humidifier that can soothe your skin — like it did for my relative!

References: 

  1. https://nationaleczema.org/blog/eczema-in-winter/
  2. https://anthc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Viruses-and-Humidity-ANTHC-2.pdf
  3. https://nationaleczema.org/blog/shackets-and-eczema-friendly-fabrics/
  4. https://nationaleczema.org/research/eczema-facts/
  5. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/
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Ile Kauppila

MA Multimedia Journalism / BA English Philology

Ile Kauppila
Ile Kauppila is a globetrotting writer and editor living in Virginia. Ile holds an MA degree in Multimedia Journalism and a BA in English Philology. Ile has written for a variety of home, HVAC, and energy-related websites and publications. He has covered HVAC solutions, insulation, and energy-efficient construction, automotive AC systems for multiple auto dealerships and garages.

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