Regardless of where you’re reading this, it’s been a hot summer. And while the end is near, there are still plenty of searing afternoons ahead of us. For those who experience severe eczema symptoms in the summertime, this could mean lots of itching, sweating, and more itching.
Eczema is the term used to describe a group of chronic skin disorders that cause recurring itchy rashes. They can affect people of all skin types, ethnicities, genders, and ages. In the United States alone, more than 31 million people have some degree of eczema, according to the National Eczema Association.
Summertime can spell sweet relief for many with eczema. The increased moisture in the air and abundant sunlight can calm flare-up-prone skin. But for others, the heat, humidity, and sweat, along with seasonal allergens like pollen, can aggravate eczema.
How can you find relief through the warm weeks ahead? Read on.
Moisturize. Then moisturize some more.
Whether it’s the dead of summer or winter, a strong moisturizer is essential if you have eczema. It can keep your skin barrier hydrated and healthy. If you don’t already have a reliable one, filter your search to highlight the ones that have healing ingredients like ceramides and colloidal oatmeal.
For your face, look for a lightweight cream or lotion that includes hyaluronic acid. It’s a humectant, which means it will draw water in to hydrate your skin.
Wash your face daily.
Washing your face each day when you wake and as you head to bed will help remove sweat and an assortment of irritants that have accumulated over the preceding hours. You don’t need to spend a lot on a cleanser. Just make sure you find one that’s gentle enough for your sensitive skin.
The National Eczema Foundation recommends using one without fragrance and with a low pH, which better complements the skin’s natural pH. These cleansers will say something like “soap-free” and “pH-balanced” on the packaging. They may also feature the National Eczema Foundation’s seal on the label. You can also search the product directory on the association’s website.
Talk with a dermatologist.
If you’re finding little relief in the changes above, turn to a board-certified dermatologist. They may prescribe a topical steroid, which will calm most itching, inflammation, and redness. They come in different strength levels and forms (cream, lotion, ointment, or spray).
Typically, a topical steroid is intended to be applied once daily for a few weeks. When using one, it’s best to apply it right after a moisturizer and well before applying sunscreen. That way each has sufficient time to fully penetrate the skin.
Sunscreen is a given. But one is better than the others.
If you aren’t already applying – and reapplying – sunscreen each and every day, start now. In general, mineral sunscreens are better than chemical sunscreens for people with eczema because they sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb those rays and convert them into heat.
Chemical sunscreens can also contain potentially irritating ingredients like oxybenzone.
If you’ve avoided mineral sunscreens in the past because of the white residue, look for “sheer zinc” on the label for less opaque formulations. If you have a deeper skin tone, try a tinted mineral sunscreen.
And if you’re struggling to get it off at the end of the day, try using micellar water on your face before washing with your everyday cleanser. For the body, an oil-based cleanser can be more effective than regular soap. And it generally won’t irritate the skin.