Managing Eczema in the Heat
Eczema is a challenging condition to manage, particularly in the summer, as heatwaves can trigger flare-ups. Luckily, there are several things you can do to keep you and your family as comfortable as possible!
Regulating your body temperature is the easiest way to stay in control of your eczema. Stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day (10 am – 2 pm). Keep a hand-held fan, cooling towel and cold water to hand.
Take regular cooling showers and moisturise immediately afterwards while your skin is still damp. You could also keep your lotions and creams in the fridge for a refreshing application. When inside, use the air conditioning or fans to maintain a room temperature of around 18°C.
If you are overheating during a heatwave, wet a tee-shirt in icy cold water then wear it! Keeping children inside during the summer is a challenge so make sure you have a paddling pool, find some shady play areas or take a large golf umbrella with you to provide some custom shade.
You can keep babies cool in their pram by using a sheepskin liner as it promotes air circulation (unless their eczema is triggered by lanolin!) and slide cool packs underneath.
If you swim in a chlorinated pool, shower with fresh water afterwards and moisturise and reapply sunblock as quickly as possible. Many people don’t realise that salt water and UV light are beneficial for eczema, so swimming in the sea can actually soothe your skin, as long as you rinse with fresh water and moisturise immediately afterwards.
Food and drink
Sip water regularly to stay hydrated and eat cooling foods such as watermelon and cucumber. Avoid known dietary triggers such as alcohol, sugary food and fried food.
Loose fitting clothing in light breathable materials such as cotton or linen and a wide-brimmed hat are invaluable during the summer, for both adults and little ones. Always put freshly washed dry clothes on after showering.
It’s best to avoid strenuous exercise on hot days to reduce the amount of sweat you produce, which can irritate eczema, particularly in skin folds such as the elbow crease, backs of the knees and the neck. If you do sweat, wipe off with a paper towel or rinse off in the shower. For car journeys, a windscreen shade can help your baby keep cool in their car seat, and scratch mitts can minimise scratching.
It pays to check the ingredients on your sunblock, insect repellent and moisturiser to avoid fragrances and harsh chemicals that are known to aggravate sensitive skin, such as salicylic acid, retinol and methylparaben. Look out for products containing shea butter, hyaluronic acid and glycerine. Some people swear by coconut oil.
Avoiding triggers (such as pollen, food, dust) for any other allergies can reduce the chances of your eczema flaring up. Having an air purifier in your home can significantly reduce the number of allergens present. You should also endeavour to ‘keep your cool’ and manage stress as effectively as possible to avoid exacerbating any flare-ups further.
Try to keep bedrooms as cool as possible by keeping the curtains closed during the day, opening the window before bedtime or even using a fan. If the air con and fans are drying the air too much, you may want to consider a humidifier. Use cotton sheets and change your bedding more regularly than you would during the winter. Some people swear by keeping a sheet in the freezer to put on just before bed time!