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To Humidify or Not to Humidify?

To humidify or not to humidify is the question! And it’s a question I have asked myself a lot over the winter.

This year brought the greenest, mildest Christmas I’ve ever seen in Western Canada. A glance on Google at weather trends in the continental United States over the past few months tells me that most of you likely experienced something similar.

While I realize how devastating the climate change and El-Niño-caused mildness will be in the coming months for my region and many others, I must say part of me was excited to experience a mild winter.

How has winter treated my eczema before?

Winter has traditionally been the most taxing season for my skin, specifically my atopic dermatitis. The dry, cold air where I live causes flare-ups that I find more uncomfortable than the sweat and heat-induced summer flare-ups. However, my skin didn’t get the memo about the mild winter because it cracked and peeled like it was -50 degrees Celsius outside with gale-force winds despite the temperature rarely dropping below zero.

The usual products I use to combat bad flare-ups were working, but it seemed that they didn’t last as long anymore. Given my sinuses and house plants were also struggling with the dryness I felt that a humidifier might be the perfect solution; three birds with one stone and all that.

What did I learn in my research on humidifiers?

The Winter 2024 edition of the National Eczema Association's magazine recommends getting a humidifier in their article “6 Tips to Manage Eczema in the Winter.” So I figured if they endorse getting one, it’s probably a safe bet. However, I realized two things. First, I didn’t know squat about humidifiers and second, because of that, I needed to do some research before jumping into buying one.

So, I took to the internet to analyze consumer reports, product reviews, and a handful of peer-reviewed research articles on the subject. While pouring through all that information on humidifiers, I came across information that spurned a realization which ended up being beneficial for both my wallet and my skin.

While on a humidifier internet rabbit hole, I stumbled across an article from a manufacturer's blog that explained the difference between humidifiers and diffusers.

What's the difference between a humidifier and diffuser?

To summarize the article, the main difference between the two is the tank size and the output amount. A diffuser traditionally holds a small amount of water but it functions in the same way as a humidifier, just on a smaller scale. This makes it ineffective for humidifying purposes but good for dispersing scent around an enclosed space.1

When I learned this, it dawned on me that I have had a perfectly effective humidifier all along. In my defense, when it was given to me I was told it was a diffuser and didn’t know the two were fundamentally the same thing. However, looking back it seems fairly obvious given my “diffuser” has a comparable tank and output to some of the larger humidifiers available for purchase. It is truly a beast - but a super cute one with a nice wood grain pattern.

Has it worked for my skin?

Ever since I realized I already had a humidifier I have been using it non-stop and I think it has made a bit of a difference, even if just with the overall moisture level of my skin. My flare-ups are still happening but they seem a bit more tolerable. My tropical plants are happier.

So, in conclusion, when asking to humidify or not to humidify my answer would have to be a resoundingly positive “to humidify!”

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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