This summer will likely look different than any we’ve experienced. But as the shelter-at-home restrictions begin to lift and places gradually reopen, there’s hope that a degree of normalcy will return to our lives.
During the summer, for many of us, that’ll be measured by time spent outdoors. And with that, slathering on sunscreen, sweating, and lazily floating in salt water and chlorine. For those with eczema, the skin condition that causes patches of cracked, scaly skin, summer can also often mean skin-flare-ups.
Most of us are aware that winter can trigger eczema flare-ups, but the summer abounds with agitators, too. Here are a few tips to minimize their effect over the months ahead.
As much as possible, try to avoid being outside when the sun is the hottest, generally between 10 AM and 2 PM. The more you sweat, the more likely you are to experience an eczema flare-up, particularly if you have it in the creases of your elbows or knees or on your palms.
If you must go out, a talc-free baby powder applied to the areas where you tend to sweat the most can help keep your skin drier.
If it’s so hot and humid, you break a sweat within a couple minutes of venturing out, try to wipe the sweat away as it accumulates. Then, at your first opportunity, wash thoroughly (disposable wipe will do if you’re on the go) and apply moisturizer.
Rinsing off is especially important if you’ve been in a pool or the ocean. Chlorine and saltwater can irritate and dry out both sensitive and eczema-prone skin, making a flare-up more likely.
Keep dry—but hydrated
Try to always have some moisturizer within reach. Whether you’re swimming, sweating, or showering more than usual, you should be lathering on more moisturizer than you normally would. As important as it is for you to stay dry, you don’t want your skin to be dry.
If you don’t already have a reliable moisturizer, look for one with purified petroleum. It’ll form a protective barrier between your skin and the elements while hydrating your skin at the same time. That said, the latest formulations will keep it feeling light and easy to spread on.
It’s also a good idea to home in on fragrance-free moisturizers—and sunscreens, for that matter. They tend to be better tolerated by people with eczema.
Understand that, even by doing these things, you still may experience some patches that just won’t go away. Rather than hide inside—we’ve all had our fill of that for now—see a board-certified dermatologist, who will be able to employ a more power prescription treatment for eczema flare-ups, like a topical steroid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream.