July 3, 2019
How to Beat Summertime Eczema
Oh the itching! If you’re one of the millions of Americans who battle eczema (atopic dermatitis), you dread flare-ups of the chronic, itchy skin inflammation that can range from mildly distracting to intensely consuming.
Some patients report a decrease in symptoms during the summer thanks to extra moisture in the air and sunlight exposure. Others experience worsening and more frequent rashes as the temperature creeps up.
For those whose eczema is aggravated during the summer, managing body temperature and sweating are powerful weapons against flare-ups. Heat increases itching, so staying indoors during the hottest part of the day can help (but be generous with the moisturizer since air conditioning can dry out skin). If you must be outside, shade is your friend, as are lightweight, loose, cotton clothes.
The one-two punch of getting overheated and then sweating can wreak havoc on your skin. Sweat irritates the skin, so it’s important to remove it as soon as you can. Your best bet is rinsing off with fresh, clean water and then changing clothes. The same holds true with salt water and chlorine. Both must be rinsed off immediately to minimize skin irritation. Reapply sunscreen and moisturizer. It may take trial and error to find gentle products that do not inflame the skin (look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in sunscreen), but it’s well worth the effort.
As is the case all year long for every human on the planet – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! There are endless health benefits to staying hydrated. Bring extra drinking water along, especially if you’ll be out in the heat. This will help keep your skin hydrated and make you less susceptible to flare-ups.
Regardless of the season, managing triggers can help keep eczema at bay. Stress is a well-known eczema trigger. Let this be your excuse to plan a relaxing summer vacation. Your skin will thank you! Also keep an eye on food and environmental allergens, even checking pollen counts at your vacation destination so you know what might cause a problem. Bring any allergy medications you might need in a pinch.
Since the heat can make itching spiral out of control, stay on top of it. Don’t wait for the itching to get unbearable before applying your doctor-prescribed remedies. Scratching makes eczema worse, so do what you can to cool yourself off and soothe the itch as soon as it starts.
Don’t let eczema ruin your summer fun! You can still swim, hike, or do whatever else makes your heart happy. Just be sure you have a game plan to minimize flare-ups and treat any symptoms that do crop up.