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.
- Stay Cool, Avoid Sweating, and Drink Enough Water
Trying to minimize sweating is an obvious first line of defense. “Staying cool by avoiding excessively warm temperatures and reducing sweating are the most important strategies,” Dr. Friedmann says. That might mean sticking to the shade when you’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).
- 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. “Some chemical sunscreens can be irritating to sensitive skin,” she says. According to Piedmont Healthcare, physical sunscreens are also more moisturizing. Look for the words “physical” or “mineral” on the bottle and ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
- Consider Phototherapy to Help Prevent Flares
This treatment option uses ultraviolet light — the same that is found in sunlight — which has been filtered to remove the damaging aspects, according to NYU Langone Health. “Controlled exposure to ultraviolet light during the daytime can improve eczema and prevent flares due to the anti-inflammatory properties of ultraviolet B wavelengths,” Friedmann says. A study published in The British Journal of Dermatology involving children with eczema found that narrowband ultraviolet B treatment reduced the signs of eczema by 61 percent. This doesn’t need to be limited to a summer practice, though, and can be used year-round.
- Change Out of Wet Clothing as Soon as You Can
Staying dry should be your summertime mantra if you’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.
- 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. “When inhaled, these air particles can drive allergic reactions in the skin,” 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.
- 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 there’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.
- Bathe or Shower Daily to Keep Skin Clean
Taking a bath or shower each day can help clear the skin of bacteria as well as sweat and dust that may have accumulated over the course of the day. A study published in Asia Pacific Allergy found that children with eczema saw their symptoms improve as a result of bathing daily plus moisturizing immediately afterward in the summer months. Always be sure to wash with a mild soap that doesn’t include dyes or fragrance, according to the Mayo Clinic.