Health & Wellbeing

Eczema – Itching for Summer

Ah Summer, a time of the year so many of us look forward to. Time in the sun, in the pool, at the beach, staying with friends and family during the Christmas break, sounds exciting right?

Well yes and no. Because it might not be much fun if you suffer from eczema.

What exactly is eczema?

Eczema is a medical term for dermatitis and it can be triggered by a variety of situations and environments, which brings us to summer.

For eczema sufferers, summer can be a time to dread.

You see the warmer months, especially in much of regional and rural Australia, bring with them sweat which can be a trigger for irritated skin.

Cooling off in the pool might not be a cure either, because the chlorine can act as a skin irritant.

What about cooling off at the beach if you are near the coast? Surely salt water can heal skin. Well not for some sufferers of eczema, because salt water can also cause problems.

And then there’s the sand, another potential trigger point.

In fact, no matter where you choose to take a cool dip, walking around in wet togs can be another source of irritation.

Not to mention using sunscreen. Did you know that some sunscreens contain ingredients such as fragrances and chemicals which can trigger skin irritation?

And then there are those sleep overs or holidays away, so what’s that got to do with eczema?
If you are away at someone’s home or a hotel, unless you have brought your own soap with you, you’ll be exposed to unfamiliar soap, which may not be as kind to your skin as the one you regularly use.

However, summer need not be a time of dread for eczema sufferers. There are steps you can take to help minimise skin irritations.

The first step according to Eczema Association Australasia is to stay cool and avoid sweating.
This can be done by wearing light cotton clothing. Stay in the shade as much as possible and during the peak temperature of the day, stay indoors if you can.

If you’ve been in a chlorinated pool, rinse yourself in a shower immediately afterwards. Whether you’re in the pool or at the beach try dabbing yourself dry with your towel rather than rubbing your skin which can risk damaging sensitive skin.

Above anything else once you have been in for a swim and you’re not likely to get back in the water for a while, get out of your wet togs, as wet clothes chafing on skin easily causes irritation.

Then of course there’s the sunscreen. If you have eczema and you are worried about sunscreen causing an irritation, you can talk to your local pharmacist about which ones are less likely to cause you irritation.

Mineral sunscreens are considered best for people with eczema.
If you want to know more about mineral sunscreens, Eczema Association Australasia has some great tips on their website:

Another hot tip is to use cool moisturiser, that is, moisturiser that is kept in the fridge or esky until you need to apply it.

It helps to neutralise hot skin when you apply it.

Most of all be prepared. If you are going away and you are worried about the soaps and shampoos you might be using, pack your preferred cleansers and shampoos with you and your favourite moisturiser.

There are plenty of other tips too, but if you are unsure about eczema over the summer ask your local pharmacist or your skin specialist for some advice for a trouble-free break over the holidays.