For people with eczema, summer isnâ€™t always so sweet. The soaring temps and warm-weather activities, like swimming and spending hours in the sun, can be eczema triggers.
â€œSweat contains various salts that can be irritating to broken skin, such as eczema skin,â€ Dr. Bard says. More specifically, sweat can contain zinc, copper, iron, nickel, cadmium, lead, manganese, sodium, and chloride, and when these build up, irritation could result, according to the National Eczema Association. You may notice eczema worsens mainly in areas where moisture gets trapped, such as the elbows, the back of the neck, or the backs of the knees.
Daniel P. Friedmann, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas, adds that other seasonal environmental factors could also be to blame. â€œAn increase in allergens in the environment â€” pollen, for example â€” can incite histamine release, which causes itching,â€ he says.
Jumping into the water and slathering on sunscreen â€” two common summertime habits â€” can also cause the eczema you thought you had under control to go into turmoil.
The good news is you can take a proactive approach to minimizing these risks. Here are eight strategies for avoiding eczema flare-ups in the summer.
1. Stay Cool, Avoid Sweating, and Drink Enough Water
Trying to minimize sweating is an obvious first line of defense. â€œStaying cool by avoiding excessively warm temperatures and reducing sweating are the most important strategies,â€ Dr. Friedmann says. That might mean sticking to the shade when youâ€™re outside or staying indoors in an air-conditioned environment when the temperatures climb, Bard notes. Be sure to drink plenty of water, too. That will keep your body at a normal temperature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And opt for loose-fitting clothes in breathable fabrics (think wicking shirts and cotton).
2. Choose a Physical (or Mineral) Sunscreen
Bard says choosing a physical sunscreen (sometimes called a mineral sunscreen) versus a chemical one is the best option for people with eczema. â€œSome chemical sunscreens can be irritating to sensitive skin,â€ she says. According to Piedmont Healthcare, physical sunscreens are also more moisturizing. Look for the words â€œphysicalâ€ or â€œmineralâ€ on the bottle and ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
4. Change Out of Wet Clothing as Soon as You Can
Staying dry should be your summertime mantra if youâ€™re struggling with eczema- prone skin. If you feel perspiration start to build and your T-shirt start to stick to your back, for instance, swap your wet clothes for dry ones as soon as you can. The BioMed Research International study found that changing clothes when they become wet with sweat is an effective way to manage sweat if you have eczema.
5. Use an Air Purifier to Battle Environmental Triggers
Consider buying an air purifier for your home to help remove dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. â€œWhen inhaled, these air particles can drive allergic reactions in the skin,â€ explains Dr. Zeichner, adding that more research is needed to prove that air purifiers truly benefit people who have eczema. Zeichner recommends opting for a HEPA purifier with a carbon filter for added protection.
6. Rinse Off Immediately After You Go Swimming
Chemicals found in chlorinated pools and salt found in the ocean could be a problem for those with sensitive skin. Just in case thereâ€™s no shower in sight, bring along a spray bottle filled with water and use it to rinse off immediately afterward, according to the National Eczema Association. Follow up by reapplying moisturizer and sunscreen to protect the skin and keep it from drying out.
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