Usually, we look forward to summer with a sense of great excitement. For those with eczema, summer may not be the sweetest time of year. Several factors may combine to bring on unexpected flare-ups of itchy red patches on the skin. Here, we discuss enemy Number One for those with eczema and what can be done to decrease the frequency and severity of flare-ups.
The primary factor that may lead to the worsening of eczema during the summer months is sweat. When the temperatures soar, regardless of humidity, we sweat. Our sweat is salty and can hold zinc, chloride, manganese, lead, cadmium, nickel, iron, and copper. The buildup of these substances on the skin can lead to irritation. If you or someone you love has eczema, you may have noticed that the condition looks worse in areas where moisture gets trapped on the skin, such as the elbows or backs of the knees.
Reducing Summertime Eczema Flare-Ups
Knowing that heat and sweat can trigger days or weeks of persistent irritation, it seems wise to accumulate several strategies to prevent this. Suggestions include:
- Stay cool as much as possible. Of course, the obvious method of reducing eczema flare-ups is to try not to sweat. During the hot summer months, this can be nearly impossible. However, risks can be reduced by staying indoors during the hottest times of the day and staying in the shade when outdoors. Also, staying hydrated helps keep the body temperature from climbing too high, so keeping a water bottle on hand is advantageous.
- Wear physical sunscreen instead of chemical sunscreen. Many people aren’t even aware that sunscreens can work in two different ways. Those that are physical, also called mineral sunscreen, are more moisturizing and do not rely on a chemical reaction in the skin to filter UV rays.
- Remove wet clothing quickly. Summertime is a time of being around water and subjected to heat. Both can create damp spots on clothing, which can lead to irritation on the skin. If perspiration makes a t-shirt stick to the skin, it’s time for a change. Wet swimsuits should also be traded for dry clothes once swimming is done.
- Rinse after swimming. Most swimming pools are kept clean with chlorine or salt. Both of these substances can be problematic for people with sensitive skin. The National Eczema Association recommends rinsing off immediately after swimming so chemicals to not sit on the skin. If a shower is not accessible, a bottle of water or spray bottle can be used to dampen the skin before reapplying lotion and/or sunscreen.
- Moisturize the skin with ceramides. Products like CeraVe are made with ceramides, lipids that act as a protective barrier on the skin. Ceramides moisten and can help prevent irritation.