Nine steps to living your best life
Now that summer is here, South Africans should be aware of the sun and its effect on the skin. Those battling eczema will need to take extra precautions in hot, humid conditions to prevent flare-ups and discomfort. While there is no cure for this volatile condition, a few practical tips can go a long way in keeping your eczema stable in the summer, allowing you to feel comfortable as you enjoy the festive season.
1. Perfectly Prepared
Clothing that offers your skin protection from the sun is ideal. Wide-brimmed hats are fantastic, offering shelter from the sun while they show a healthy respect for fashion and style too. Loose clothing made using breathable fabrics will help too, while choosing lighter colours that reflect the sun will keep your skin cool and fresh.
2. Stay Dry
To avoid eczema flare-ups due to irritation, keep the skin cool, clean, and dry. In the warmer months this is not always possible, and allowing your skin condition to get in the way of living is certainly no way to enjoy the summer. Knowing what your triggers are will help in managing your conditions. Humidity and heat can both contribute to discomfort. Go out, get sweaty and have fun, but rinse the skin with water and change your clothes as soon as you can once you are finished, sooner if your skin is reacting uncomfortably.
3. Combat seasonal and environmental allergies
Antihistamines help reduce the symptoms of allergies, like itchy skin, watery eyes and allergy flare-ups. While pollen, sweat, and humidity can exacerbate the issue, antihistamines can lower them, allowing you to keep enjoying your day with minimal discomfort. Different medications work for different people, certain antihistamines may cause drowsiness and therefore it is best to get medical advice from your doctor to find the perfect solution for your needs. Antihistamines allow you to push your boundaries slightly without the discomfort.
4. Reduce dust, pollen, and allergens
Dust, pollen, and allergens are common triggers for those suffering from eczema. While antihistamines are great at bringing the severity of symptoms to a minimum, it is best to try and control your environment when it is possible. Removing dust, pollen, and allergens from the air will benefit everyone in the environment, not only those suffering from allergies. An air purifier is the best way to create an environment that is comfortable for those with eczema.
5. Moisture in the air: Find your balance
A humidifier is a great way to find the right balance between dry and humid air conditions. If you use an air-conditioner, you may find it dries out the air too much, leading to discomfort and inflamed eczema. While there is a general balance between dry and humid air that works for the majority of people, trial and error is generally the best way to determine what works for your body. Once you have established this, the knowledge you have gained will serve you well for the rest of your life.
6. Sun, sea, and swimming pools
If you are enjoying time in the pool or in the sea this festive season, rinse your skin as soon as you are finished. Salt water and chlorinated water both trigger existing eczema. Apply moisturizer and keep your skin cool. Sunblock is also highly advisable, many eczema sufferers attest to the fact that sunburn can wreak havoc with this skin condition.
7. Drink water
Our bodies require lots of water in order for all of the finer functions to work properly, the skin is no exception! To give the cells in your skin what they need to serve you well, keep yourself properly hydrated. Hydration is a key element in managing aging and the ability of the body to regenerate and revitalise itself.
8. Invest in hypoallergenic sunblock
As mentioned, sunburn can make your eczema worse. On the other hand, a sunblock with harsh chemicals can trigger discomfort in the skin with eczema too. Sunblock that is fragrance-free, oil-free and water-resistant is ideal. An investment in your skin is an investment in your health, in the case of eczema sufferers, it is an investment in your quality of life too. Before purchasing any ointments or creams, ensure there are no harsh chemicals that will aggravate your conditions. This applies to sunblock, moisturiser, and insect repellant.
9. Relax, take it easy and have a good time
While we want to believe the festive season is a time to relax, the reality is that it is a time of great stress for many families and individuals. Stress is a major cause of eczema flaring up, if you are experiencing a rise in inflammation, ask yourself if you have felt stressed lately. Actively set aside time for yourself to relax and learn to pass some of the tasks onto others if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or overwrought.
Have a cocktail, throw on some sunglasses and take precautions against the sun! If your condition is preventing you from living a happy, full life, feel free to book an appointment. Dr. Khoza will steer the health of your skin to vibrant health and happiness.