Q. I’m a 26-year-old with atopic dermatitis that’s reasonably controlled in cool weather. But last summer l struggled with rashy, itchy outbreaks, especially on the hotter days. Any suggestions to prevent flare-ups this summer? And would swimming in my neighbors’ chlorinated pool help my eczema – or make it worse?
Many patients with atopic dermatitis find they are worse in the summer. Overheating can release histamine, and sweat can irritate the skin, causing flare-ups. I suggest you try your best to keep your body temperature down with central air conditioning.
Sunscreens are another potential irritant. I recommend 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 be beneficial. In fact, ultraviolet light treatment is often used in dermatologists’ offices to treat skin inflammation. Everything in moderation: Fifteen minutes of natural sunlight, midday, without sunscreen, can be a useful treatment for dermatitis.
As for the pool – the chlorine could definitely flare your eczema. But you don’t 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 in a shower. If you have active dermatitis patches, you could apply a moisturizer, like Cetaphil, CeraVe or Lipikar Baume, to these areas before you swim to act as a barrier to the chlorinated water.
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