How To Deal With Eczema Flare-Ups In The Summer

Summer brings the perfect storm for people with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic condition that causes the skin to get inflamed, crack, and itch easily when triggered by certain substances or stress. The higher moisture levels in the air make people sweat more during summer, which can trigger more eczema flare-ups. According to BioMed Research International, 34 patients with eczema showed that perspiration is a trigger and that sweat management for individuals suffering from adult atopic dermatitis is useful in keeping flare-ups under control. If you have eczema and you're living in a hot and dry climate, expect increased itchiness and more severe rashes during warmer days. 

Although eczema is a chronic skin disorder that entails long-term treatment, you don't have to let your skin woes get in your way of having fun this summer. Taking measures to keep your skin cool and dry can help you keep irritations at bay and minimize summertime eczema flare-ups. Below, check out four easy ways to deal with eczema symptoms in the summer. 

Avoid sweats at all costs

The easiest way to not get sweaty is to avoid heat and sun exposure. That means keeping to the shade and a high-ventilation environment whenever possible, wearing loose and comfy clothing, and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated. When you work out, choose to do so at dawn or late at night when the temperature is at its lowest and in an air-conditioned space. Before breaking a sweat, moisturize your skin to prevent water loss and hit the shower the moment you're finished with your activity. If your clothing is wet from sweat, change into something dry immediately. Otherwise, the sweat and germs trapped in the fabrics can irritate your skin and cause an infection. 

You should also avoid wearing clothes that can cause overheating. For instance, many people with sensitive skin, especially eczema, sweat more profusely and get frequent flare-ups when wearing wool or synthetic materials like nylon or polyester because these fabrics don't absorb moisture very well. Lightweight and breathable fabrics such as cotton, lyocell, silk, and bamboo are more absorbent and comfortable on those with eczema, per the National Eczema Society.

Wear a physical sunscreen

It's generally safer to stick with physical sunscreen if you have eczema. According to the National Eczema Society, a physical (or mineral) sunscreen is better for people with eczema than chemical sunscreen since it appears to cause fewer problems. Minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which deflect UV rays from the skin, are often used in physical sunscreens. Meanwhile, chemical sunscreens often contain UV-absorbing ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone.

Chemical sunscreens are more likely to cause irritations than physical sunscreens. For instance, octocrylene, a common ingredient found in chemical sunscreens, is known to cause photoallergic contact dermatitis, a condition in which the ingredients in the sunscreen interact with UV rays to cause an adverse reaction or a flare-up on your skin, dermatologist Dr. JiaDe "Jeff" Yu told the National Eczema Association. Dr. Yu recommends avoiding octocrylene to avoid triggering allergic responses and aggravating your condition. You should also choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that's independent of fragrances and comes with a high SPF rating.

Invest in an air purifier

According to Airfuji, those with eczema can also find relief in air purifiers, which eliminate airborne contaminants like mold, dust mites, and pollen to enhance indoor air quality. It has been shown that a decline in indoor air quality can irritate the skin and lead to skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis, per the National Library of Medicine. The fewer pollutants there are floating in the air, the less likely your skin will be triggered and flare up.

Also, air purifiers can keep you cool. Air purifiers cannot technically cool down a room, but their air-cleansing and circulating effect via the constant airflow can regulate your body temperature and make you feel more comfortable. When the air is clean, and you feel cool, your skin is no longer an easy target for environmental triggers. To maximize the air-purifying effect, invest in an air purifier with a built-in fan and a high airflow rating to make the room feel cooler while filtering the air. If it's hot outside, close the windows and curtains to prevent external heat from getting inside. 

Moisturize with skin barrier ingredients

The heat and humidity of summer make it easy for pollen and mold spores to float around and invade the body. That's why indoor allergies are prevalent when heat waves strike. For people with sensitive skin, keeping the skin barrier's moisture level strong is the key to protecting your skin from allergens and irritants. If you have eczema, make a point of moisturizing frequently during summer.

When looking for moisturizers, keep an eye out for calming ingredients that reduce inflammation and redness, such as niacinamide, petrolatum, humectants, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, vitamin E, and oat or shea butter, per the National Eczema Association. "The more oil in a moisturizer, the better it usually is at treating eczema," according to the site. "The best moisturizers to use are the ones that feel "greasy" (ointments and creams), because they contain more oil." It's good sense to slather up with moisturizer within three minutes after taking a shower or washing your hands to prevent moisture loss and proceed with medication as needed. When shopping for moisturizers, always read the labels carefully to watch out for ingredients that you're allergic to or those that can potentially aggravate your condition. For instance, alcohol, lanolin, and synthetic fragrances are several skincare ingredients you should avoid if you have eczema. To err on the safe side, always test the formula on a small patch of your skin first to watch for any allergic reaction.