If you’re an active person with eczema who enjoys exercise (or at least are willing to exercise regularly to stay fit even if you don’t like it all that much), summer presents unique challenges.
That’s because heat and sweat can have a negative impact on people with this condition. But you can protect yourself and still enjoy yourself on hot days and while working out, if you prepare ahead of time.
Problems From Heat and Sweat For People With Eczema
Sweat does more than contribute to body odor or ruin your favorite item of clothing. It can lead to eczema flare-ups. But the correct response isn’t to avoid exercise or to stay locked up at home. In fact, you want to maintain your exercise regimen.
As WebMD pointed out, “Physical activity can make your heart stronger, boost your mood, and -- if you have eczema -- leave your skin red, sensitive, and itchy.” It added that, there’s “no reason to skip exercise. It can actually help your eczema because it lowers stress, and stress can trigger flare-ups.”
Still, it pays to be aware of how sweat and heat can make eczema patients feel more uncomfortable.
Perspiration is salty and acidic, so when the sweat dries from your body, you may feel stinging sensations.
“The downside of exercising with eczema is the fact that sweat can trigger flare-ups in some people,” explained the National Eczema Association (NEA).
“The body sweats in order to regulate body temperature. When we get hot and sweaty, the moisture evaporates, cooling us down. As the sweat evaporates, the skin dries out and is left with a salty residue that can irritate eczema skin and bring on the itch.”
But don’t fret. There are things you can do to minimize flare-ups and keep your eczema symptoms under control.
Tips for Caring for Yourself When Exercising or in Hot Areas
You can't always control your environment, but there are things you can do to beat the heat and keep eczema flare-ups to a minimum, even on hot days.
Working out at home is ideal, since you have immediate access to a shower to get rid of sweat before it starts making you feel uncomfortable. You can also control the thermostat to stay cooler, an option unavailable to you at a public gym.
When exercising outside, aim to do so at night or early in the morning, to avoid the worst of the heat. But whenever you are outside during the day, make sure to apply a hypoallergenic sunscreen.
These tips are designed to keep you comfortable when heat and sweat conspire to make you feel lousy:
- Keep water handy, not just for drinking throughout the day, but also to rinse sweat away.
- Look for air conditioning when the thermometer peaks during summer.
- Position a portable fan to blow a cool breeze when AC is unavailable.
- Have extra towels so you can wipe away sweat and soothe your skin, per the NEA. Don’t use your shirt to remove sweat. All that does is spread sweat across your body.
- Keep your favorite skin care/relief products within reach so you can moisturize and soothe your skin during heat and sweat-related eczema flare-ups.
- Avoid tight clothing, even if designed for exercise. It’s best to wear natural fiber, like loose clothing made from cotton.
- Give yourself a break: Intense people who work out hard may forget to pause periodically. Set an alarm on your smartphone to remind you to chill out for a moment.
- When you’re having a major eczema outbreak, you don’t need to stop exercising. Just shift to a less intense pace, avoiding high-impact activity until you recover. Go for a walk around the block instead of running up a hill for an hour. Lift weights for strength training and conditioning on days when cardiovascular and sweat-inducing exercise will be an issue.
Staying Comfortable Amidst Eczema Flare-ups
It’s not always possible to remain inside an air-conditioned space, so you’ll want to plan ahead about how you will react when you’re caught under the sweltering summer sun.
Whether you’re just relaxing and laying out to sunbathe or are actively working out, sweat on the skin can lead to painful outbreaks. So when you are in need of relief, it’s good to keep some soothing cream handy. Eczema Honey products are made with high quality ingredients that relieve itching and irritation that can come when you’re hot and sweaty.
- WebMD: Tips for Exercising When You Have Eczema
- National Eczema Association: How to Exercise Safely With Eczema