If you or your child have atopic dermatitis — otherwise known as eczema — then you know how challenging it can be. From red, irritating rashes to (sometimes unpredictable) worsening flare-ups, this chronic inflammatory disease can easily affect your day-to-day life, especially in warmer weather when heat and humidity can make eczema worse.
Eczema is more prevalent than you’d probably think. In the United States alone, nearly 18 million children and adults are living with it. And while it isn’t curable, there are some things you can do when it’s hot out that may help. “Some patients’ skin may react to changes in temperature more than others and we may give these patients some additional guidance on caring for their skin in the warmer weather. That’s why it’s important to see your dermatologist,” says Omar Noor, MD, co-owner of Rao Dermatology in New York City.
To find out more, we had Dr Noor share some of his top tips for dealing with eczema in the heat — like using a gentle cleanser on yourself or your little one or visiting your doctor to see what treatment options exist.
Wear The Right Sunscreen
When choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients. “A sunscreen that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide tends to be less irritating,” notes Dr Noor. And fret not, zinc oxide formulas have come a long way since the days of leaving a thick, white residue.
Rinse-Off Immediately After Being In The Pool
For some people, chlorine may be a trigger for eczema, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a nice pool day. Dr Noor has one easy recommendation: “A quick rinse after the pool will help get rid of the chlorine on your body,” he says. “Anything that dries out and irritates the skin — like chlorine — can make eczema flare-up, so it’s important to take this step before going about the rest of your day.”
Avoid Harsh Soaps
This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many seemingly gentle soaps and body washes are actually quite irritating. (That white bar soap sans fragrance or dyes? Yeah, it’s probably time to consider an alternative.) “Use a gentle, foaming non-soap liquid cleanser because, as a whole, they typically have fewer detergents in them, which means they won’t dry out the skin as much as, say, a bar soap would,” says Dr Noor. And since warmer weather may mean more showers (case in point: our last tip), you might want to take note.
Try Moisturizer In A Jar
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that super-convenient pump moisturizer on your vanity might not be cutting it. “Most formulas in pumps have to be thinned out in order for the cream to flow through it, so consider using a moisturizer in a jar because they tend to be thicker,” says Dr. Noor. And as for the formula itself? Dr. Noor notes that the ones you can find at a drugstore or your local supermarket are just fine. “Moisturizing after bathing often helps, too.”
Consider A Topical Prescription Ointment
Regardless of the season, if you are considering a prescription medication to treat your eczema, you may want to make an appointment to see your primary care doctor or a derm. From there, your doctor will assess your skin and determine a course of action.