Controlling Eczema Flare-Ups in the Summer

Published: July 17, 2017

Q. I am a 26-year-old with atopic dermatitis that is reasonably well controlled in cool weather. But last summer l struggled with very rashy, itchy outbreaks, especially on hotter days. Do you have any suggestions to prevent eczema flare-ups this summer? And would swimming in my neighbors’ chlorinated pool help – or make the eczema flare-ups even worse?

Many patients with atopic dermatitis find that their symptoms are worse during the summer months. Overheating can release histamine, and sweat can irritate the skin, causing eczema flare-ups. I suggest you try your best to keep your body temperature down with central air conditioning.

Sunscreens are another potential irritant that can cause eczema flare-ups. I recommend using mineral-based sunscreens, where the active ingredient is titanium or zinc (or both) as they are less irritating. And while we usually do our best to avoid sun in the summer, a limited amount each day can actually be beneficial.

UV Rays, the Pool and Eczema Flare-Ups

In fact, ultraviolet light treatment is often used in dermatologists’ offices to treat skin inflammation. Everything in moderation: 15 minutes of natural sunlight, at midday, without sunscreen, can be a useful treatment for dermatitis.

As for the pool – the chlorine could definitely lead to eczema flare-ups. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stay out of the water altogether. Swim for a short time, to cool off. When you get out, towel off or, better yet, rinse off the chlorine in a shower.

If you have active dermatitis patches, it’s a good idea to apply a gentle moisturizer, like Cetaphil, CeraVe or Lipikar Baume, to these areas before you swim to act as a barrier to the chlorinated water.

Related Reading: Using Sea Salt for Eczema Control 

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