Summer can be a difficult time for people with summertime eczema flare ups. Between common skin irritants causing itchy flare ups or feeling embarrassed about red rashes or scaly skin, it can be tempting to want to stay indoors with pants and long sleeves on summer days, wishing for autumn to come!
But with these tips, you can feel confident about enjoying the long sunny days of summer.
Avoid common irritants
Sunscreen and pool chlorine are common skin irritants that eczema sufferers encounter over the summer. Adults who have a history with eczema will generally know what will trigger a flare up.
Read the ingredient label of sunscreen carefully, avoiding products with added fragrances, which could trigger a flare up or further irritate sensitive skin. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a product that is formulated for sensitive skin and approved by dermatologists. Moisturizing ingredients such as Vitamin E can also help soothe dry, itchy skin. Keep in mind that sunscreens labeled “natural” or “organic” may still contain plant-based additives that can trigger an eczema flare up.
The chlorine levels in public swimming pools are carefully monitored to ensure that people are kept safe, both from bacteria in the water and from chemical burns (both of which are extremely rare!). That said, the drying effect that chlorine has on sensitive skin, especially for people with eczema, cannot be overlooked. Whether you’re lounging or swimming laps, always rinse your skin thoroughly with a mild cleanser and pat dry with a soft towel. Apply a non-greasy moisturizing cream or lotion afterwards.
(don’t necessarily want to discourage barrier cream use ☺)
If your eczema is being treated with a prescription topical steroid cream, be sure to ask your dermatologist how the sun will affect your skin. Topical steroids impair the barrier function of your skin, making your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Be sure to ask how your prescription interacts with sunscreens or insect repellants.
Eczema and emotions
During an eczema flare up, especially if your arms or legs are affected, you may feel embarrassed to wear shorts and a t-shirt. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way! Here are some ways to feel more comfortable about your eczema when you’re in public.
Options for covering your skin
For some eczema sufferers, especially those who are sensitive to sunscreens, wearing a lightweight long sleeve shirt and long pants may be the option that you feel most comfortable with. If your eczema affects your scalp, a hat, scarf or bandana cannot only protect your scalp from the sun, but be made to be a fun fashion accessory. Some shirts, pants, hats and scarves even have built-in SPF protection – ideal for eczema sufferers sensitive to sun and sunscreen!
There are some cosmetics that may be used to cover up thickened or scarred skin. Talk to your dermatologist or another skin care expert for a product that is suitable for your skin type.
Options for shorts and t-shirts
If you have been newly diagnosed with eczema, you may feel awkward during the summertime, when it seems like everyone else around you is wearing shorts and t-shirts. Instead of feeling embarrassed about an eczema flare up, think of it as an opportunity to share your eczema story. Eczema sufferers are eager to share their tips for soothing dry sky, minimizing itchiness and managing flare-ups. Remind people that eczema is not contagious, sometimes it’s simply letting others know that eczema is a normal skin condition.
With these suggestions, you can make the most of the wonderful weather and sunny days with a skin care routine that heals and protects your skin and consider shorts and t-shirt (instead of covering up) a chance to educate people about eczema.