Summertime evokes images of bare skin in the sun, sparkling pools, and – if we’re going to be perfectly honest – sweaty dog day afternoons when the hair sticks to the back of your neck.
So with all that sweating and humidity in the air, do people with Eczema still need to moisturize their skin? It may seem counterintuitive.
After all, it’s in winter that dry, cold weather and even drier, overheated rooms aggravate eczema and require the slathering of thick creams several times a day to hydrate thirsty skin. So humid air and summertime means less moisturizing, right?
“Wrong”, says Dr. Eddie Valenzuela, who treats eczema patients from newborns to adults, “If you have eczema, your skin will still need to be moisturized at least twice a day. But the difference may be the kind of moisturizer you choose to use.”
The Moisturizing Formula Matters
No one likes to feel greasy. But moisturizer plus humidity can make you feel “like you’re baking in your own skin,” says Dr. Eddie, who lives and works in the infamously hot and humid environment of Houston, Texas.
“I hate greasy creams myself. When I can’t twist a knob on my lamp or open a door handle without having it slip in my hands, or find myself hesitating to put clothes on over moisturized skin, that’s a problem,” he says. Worse, it becomes an obstacle for eczema sufferers to properly moisturize.
So he used his medical know-how and real-world experience to formulate Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Moisturizing Cream for eczema – which is thick enough to reduce water loss from eczema-prone skin while remaining light enough to prevent that “sweating out the cream” sensation.
“It’s tempting to ease up on your moisturizing routine when it’s hot, and I understand that,” says Dr. Eddie, “but summer comes with its own skin triggers that require you to keep protecting eczema-prone skin.”
Eczema Summer Triggers
Chlorinated Pools – A properly chlorinated pool can actually be soothing to many who have eczema, but some skin types will still find it irritating. And a pool that’s not properly chlorinated can lead to excess drying and irritation. Good moisturizing before and after pool-swimming, and of course a good rinse after bathing, generally negates any negative effects.
Ocean Bacteria – Like a properly chlorinated pool, clean ocean water can be soothing and beneficial to skin with eczema. But some beaches can experience bacterial swells (like Red Tide) that are exceptionally irritating and can be outright dangerous if you have open sores or a severe eczema flare. Some people may unfortunately find swimming in the ocean to be irritating to the skin, so rinsing for a few minutes after exiting the water may be a good idea here as well.
Excess Sun Exposure – Eczema patients who linger in the sun a little too long without wearing sunscreen— typically children and teenagers — are prone to developing patchy white spots known as “Pityriasis Alba.” While not permanent, these spots could last 4 to 6 months and are entirely preventable with proper skin care. On the other hand, moderation is a good thing, a little sun exposure can regularly can be beneficial to those with eczema by enhancing the skin barrier and improving antimicrobial activity on the skin .
Irritating Sunblock Formulas – Sunblocks with parabens can irritate sensitive skin. “Make sure you use a sunblock made for sensitive skin,” he says, “just like you would for any other cream you put on your body.” Make sure to apply a copious amount of sunscreen and to reapply every 1 to 2 hours. Also make sure that your sunblock has UVA and UVB protection.
Sweat – In children and babies in particular, sweat and overheating are common eczema triggers, necessitating not just gentle moisturizing but loose-fitting cotton clothing and comfortable temperatures.
PROPER ECZEMA MOISTURIZING TECHNIQUE IN THE SUMMER
So how do you moisturize for eczema on a hot summer day?
Dr. Eddie recommends moisturizing first thing in the morning and letting it dry before adding your sunblock. As an added bonus, the doctor says the sunscreen will be more evenly applied if the skin is well moisturized. And just as you choose a moisturizer that’s all-natural, fragrance-free and formulated for sensitive skin, “choose a sunblock that is paraben-free and also made for sensitive skin.”
(And no – the sunblock doesn’t count as your moisturizer – we asked!)
Then at the end of the day, moisturize again, preferably with a non-greasy eczema cream.
“A major tenet of moisturizing with eczema is that you want to put it on right after the bath when the skin is still a bit humid,” says Dr. Eddie.
The good news is some people will experience an easing of eczema symptoms over the summer, but the best way to enjoy a summer that’s cool and carefree is to still give your skin the TLC it needs. And that’s true for everyone’s skin, eczema or not!