In theory, summer days should be about sunbathing (with SPF, obviously), naps, barbecues, and going to the beach — not itching, sweating, and itching again. However, if you experience severe eczema symptoms during the summer, the latter may be your reality.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an umbrella term used to describe a group of chronic skin conditions that cause recurring episodes of itchy skin disease, MedStar Health board-certified dermatologist Monique Chheda, MD, tells SELF. The rash can affect people of all ages, skin types, genders, and ethnicities. It’s common: About 31 million people in the United States have eczema, according to the National Eczema Association.
For some people, more moisture in the air and sunlight can relieve eczema symptoms as the weather warms, rather than the harsh winter air that can dry out the skin and trigger flare-ups event. But for others, too much sunlight, heat, humidity and sweat, as well as seasonal allergens like pollen, can exacerbate eczema, says Dr. Chheda. Say hello to itching, burning, and pain—not exactly the signs of a relaxing summer vacation.
So what can you do to reduce flare-ups when the heat hits? For one thing, you need a lot of sunscreen. Then, consider the following tips to manage your eczema symptoms this summer.
Wash your face daily with a mild cleanser.
First, make sure your cleanser is gentle enough for sensitive skin, but strong enough to wash away any sweat that heat and humidity can cause, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dermatology Associate Professor Carla T. Lee, MD, told himself. You don’t have to spend a fortune on cleaners — drugstore options can provide you with morning and evening cleaning.
The National Eczema Association recommends a fragrance-free, low-concentration cleanser pH that better complements the skin’s natural pH. What’s the best way to find something that satisfies these parameters? Look for “soap free” and “pH balanced” and/or the National Eczema Association seal on the packaging, or search the product catalog on the association’s website.
Moisturizing, moisturizing, moisturizing.
No matter the season, an intense daily moisturizer is a must-have for eczema. It keeps your skin barrier healthy and hydrated, says Dr. Chheda. In body moisturizers, she recommends soothing, healing ingredients like ceramides and colloidal oatmeal.
Jami Miller, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recommends choosing whipped creams or lotions that contain active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, a humectant that Absorbs moisture to hydrate the skin. Also, avoid scented skin care products, as they can cause flare-ups in some eczema sufferers.
Switching to prescription topical steroids.
The primary treatments for calming itching, inflammation, and redness are topical steroids, which are available in varying levels of strength in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, or sprays. “In summer, people generally don’t like to use thick, greasy ointments, and we may change specific formulas to lighter creams,” says Dr. Chheda.