Winter and its blistering-cold conditions is known for wreaking havoc on those with eczema-prone skin. However, those with eczema know that summer poses its own challenges as well. Dermatologist, National Ezcema Association member and advisor to Bodewell Peter Lio, MD says, “The extreme heat and humidity, the frequent sweating and the jarring temperature changes from ice-cold air conditioning to the sweltering outdoors” can all contribute to eczema flare-ups. “Additionally, summer typically means fewer clothes and thus can lead to more anxiety around how the skin looks,” he notes.
Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD notes that it’s common for people to be “triggered by temperature changes such as heat or humidity in the summer.” To help you avoid flare-ups this summer, we have tips from dermatologists on how to stave off any irritation.
Keep your skin barrier intact and strong
“The best way to fend off eczema flares during the summer months is to keep your skin barrier intact,” says West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. “An intact skin barrier will help to keep infections from starting and also help to minimize allergic or irritant molecules from causing a flare.”
Avoid irritating chemicals and fragrances
Dr. Beer advises avoiding any possible eczema irritants. “The most common culprits of eczema are irritating skin-care ingredients such as certain chemicals (such as mineral oils, formaldehydes) and fragrances (including lemongrass and sandalwood),” says Dr. Blyumin-Karasik.
Although exfoliation can be beneficial for most skin types, it can be an irritant for those with eczema. Dr. Blyumin-Karasik suggests avoiding ingredients that are exfoliants like beta hydroxy acids, alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids.
Be careful with tactile triggers
Dr. Blyumin-Karasik warns that certain people react to tactile triggers “such as rough wool clothing or rubbing/scratching of the skin or significant sweating after exertion.” If you have eczema, monitor how your skin reacts to these triggers so you know which to avoid.
Use lightweight products
Dermatologist and advisor to Bodewell, Tiffany Mayo, MD, says patients often want to skip moisturizer in hot weather, but she advises to resist the urge to skip applying lotion as it’s an important step in decrease eczema flare ups.
If you don’t like using thick products in the summer, swap them for lighter moisturizers. “During the hot and sweaty days of summer, many patients find lighter-weight preparations to be more tolerable on the skin instead of the heavier, greasier ointment preparations,” says Dr. Lio.
Shower more frequently and in colder water
“More frequent brief, cool showers can be helpful, so long as a gentle cleanser is used and moisturizer is applied right after,” says Dr. Lio. “This helps wash off allergens and irritants (including sweat) that can make the skin worse, but also physically cools the skin.” He adds that moisturizing right after the shower to help strengthen the skin barrier.
Use a mineral water spray
“Keeping a mineral water spray on hand can allow for a quick cool down of the skin that can be very soothing, particularly when overheated,” says Dr. Lio. “The mineral water can also help dilute the irritating nature of sweat, even when you can’t get to a shower.”
Get some sun, but not too much
“Getting a little bit of sun exposure can be helpful for many skin conditions, especially psoriasis and eczema,” says Dr. Lio. However, he adds that too much sun is not good as it can increase the risk of skin cancer. He suggests keeping sun exposure “brief and in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is less intense.”
Choose the right sunscreen
“Some sunscreens, particularly chemical sunscreens, may cause flares due to certain ingredients,” says Dr. Mayo. However, you can’t simply skip sunscreen altogether. Dr. Mayo suggests choosing sunscreens recommended by the National Eczema Association.