Eczema can worsen depending on the season. This is particularly true during the summer months when some people experience an increase in the number and intensity of flares.
Though there are several reasons as to why this occurs, sufferers can take heart that their condition can still be managed through proven countermeasures.
Eczema and the summertime blues
While there are a number of reasons why some people experience much more discomfort from eczema during the summer months, the most common triggers for outbreaks are:
Sweating – Sweat can irritate the skin and the moisture can turn it into a breeding ground for bacteria. For these reasons, some people find their eczema flares after sweating.
Sunscreen and other cosmetic products - Certain ingredients in sunscreen can dry or irritate the skin. Check closely to make sure your cosmetic products, as well as sunscreen, don’t contain alcohol.
Air conditioning - Air conditioners take moisture out of the air and can dry your skin by removing moisture from it as well.
Swimming - Chlorine in swimming pools, as well as salt in the ocean can dry out your skin.
Sunburns - Sunshine can have an antiseptic effect, keeping your skin free from bacteria. However, too much sun can irritate it and cause your eczema to flare.
What you can do
If you experience an increase in eczema flares during the summer months, there are some ways you can combat them. The important thing is to keep track of your activities to pinpoint which ones trigger eczema symptoms so you can better manage outbreaks.
_There are also some steps you can take on a daily basis to help limit eczema flares: _
Use moisturizer liberally - Dry air and summer activities can dry out your skin and trigger eczema. Applying moisturizer several times a day can keep this from happening.
Avoid overheating - Try to plan outdoor activities early in the morning or in the evening. The rest of the time, keep cool by staying indoors. But be sure to apply extra moisturizer to protect yourself from the drying effect of air conditioning. Whenever you are outdoors, bring an extra bottle of water along with paper towels or a washcloth to wipe sweat off.
Use sun protection when outdoors - Overexposure to the sun is a common trigger for eczema. But look for sunscreens that are alcohol-free and contain natural ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. A pair of sunglasses, a hat, and lightweight long sleeves and pants can further help reduce exposure to the sun. Also, keep in mind that being in or near water can increase the effects of the sun.
Drink lots of water - Your skin hydrates from the inside out. While any fluids will help, be sure to drink plenty of plain water.
Treat seasonal and food allergies – For those who experience summer allergies, make sure to treat your allergy symptoms as they can also trigger an eczema flare.
Rinse off after swimming- Rinsing your body after getting out of the water helps wash away pool chemicals or salt residue. Apply a moisturizer after your rinse to reduce dryness and lock in moisture.
Manage the itch - Scratching your skin can cause your eczema to worsen. So if you feel itching coming on, apply over-the-counter anti-itch remedies immediately. If this doesn’t help, speak with your doctor about other options.
Manage stress - Take time each day to do something relaxing and enjoyable. As you learn your triggers, you can tailor your anti-eczema strategies to fit your unique needs.
For more information on managing eczema:
How to Treat Your Out-of-Control Eczema
If It's Fall, This Must Be Eczema
Ten Things You Need to Know About Adult Eczema
Eczema & Children: What Parents Can Do
Eczema: University of Maryland Medical Center
Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis: FamilyDoctor.org
Eczema Causes and Triggers: National Eczema Association
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.