Welcome to the weather and holidays section!
This section will look at:
- How can I care for my skin in the summer?
- How can I choose a sunscreen?
- How can pollen affect my eczema?
- Will my eczema get better or worse on holiday?
- What should I think about when going on a holiday?
- How can I care for my skin in the winter?
How does the weather affect my eczema?
Everyone’s eczema is different, so it is hard to say how your eczema will be in different weather. Hot or cold weather and sudden changes in temperature can make your eczema worse.
Some people find that pollen can make their eczema worse.
How can pollen make eczema worse?
Some people find that pollen can make their eczema worse. There are three main types of pollen that can make eczema worse at different times of the year:
- Tree pollen
Reactions usually happen in areas of skin that are open to the air, such as the face or bare legs/arms.
When is pollen worse and what can I do?
During summer, pollen is highest in the early morning and then comes down towards the evening. There are things you can do to help avoid pollen if you think it’s making your eczema worse.
You could try to:
- Keep bedroom windows closed during the night
- Dry clothes inside, as pollen sticks easily to sheets and clothes when dried outside
- Antihistamines can be useful for symptoms of hay fever, such as runny nose, but are not usually prescribed for eczema.
Apply moisturising creams before going out. When you get back indoors wash your face and put on moisturising creams again.
I think summer is worse for me, mainly because I get itchy when I’m hot. I’ve got a bit better at stopping it from getting worse in summer now, but it depends what I’m doing.
How can I care for my skin in the summer?
The next few pages give practical tips on keeping cool, using sunscreen, and moisturising to keep control of your eczema in the summer.
Tip 1: Keep cool
Heat can trigger eczema and make it feel very itchy. Wearing hats and loose-fitting cotton clothes can help protect you against the sun and help keep you cool and comfortable.
Tip 2: Deal with sweat
Although sweating is a normal response to heat and exercise, it can irritate skin with eczema. It can be painful when on damaged skin. So it can be helpful to have a quick shower or bath when you are very sweaty.
Tip 3: Moisturise
Being outdoors in the summer can dry out the skin. So it is important to keep on top of using your moisturising cream. It’s best to use your moisturising cream at least 30 minutes before using sunscreen. If you put moisturiser on just before the sunscreen, the sunscreen may be diluted and not work properly.
You may find a thinner moisturiser will be better on hot days. Some people find a thick moisturising cream or grease makes them hot, sticky and itchy. Some find it helpful to keep their creams in the fridge so that it cools their skin when they put it on.
If you go swimming, you can protect your skin by putting the moisturising creams on before swimming and again immediately after the shower.
For more information about using or choosing a moisturising cream, check out the ‘moisturising creams’ section from the menu above.
Tip 4: Use sunscreen
Choosing a sunscreen can be a little like choosing a moisturising cream. Most people with eczema find it helpful to avoid fragrance and other ingredients that may trigger eczema.
Some sunscreens can make your eczema worse. So you may need to try a few different ones until you find one that works for you.
Find out more about choosing and testing a sunscreen
Some people find that their eczema gets better with sunlight while others might find it makes their eczema worse. Everyone should protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. This means putting sunscreen on in summer even when it’s cloudy, when on holiday in a warmer climate, or when you are taking part in outdoor winter sports.
Your skin type and colour will affect what sunscreen protection factor (SPF) you need to use. Generally, SPF 30 is recommended.
Some types of sunscreen will make your eczema worse. Look out for a fragrance-free sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB.
There are two types of sunscreen:
- Sunscreens that are absorbed in the skin. These are more likely to irritate eczema.
- Sunscreens that sit on the skin and act as a barrier. This type are usually better for eczema but do leave a white sheen behind.
What’s most important is to find a sunscreen that works best for you and does not cost too much.
Your pharmacist may be able to help you choose a sunscreen to try, but pharmacies might not be the cheapest place to buy sunscreen.
How can I care for my skin in the winter?
Lots of people’s eczema flares up in the winter. This can be because of the cold weather and heating indoors. The next few pages will have some practical tips to help you keep control of your eczema in the winter months.
Tip 1: Moisturise often
Skin is likely to dry out more quickly in winter. One way some people with eczema deal with this is by switching to a thicker moisturising cream. Others find that using their moisturising creams more often can keep their skin from drying out in the winter.
Sticking to your morning routine of applying moisturising creams can help with protecting against the cold air.
Tip 2: Protect your hands
Hands are often more at risk than any other part of the body during the winter. They are usually washed many times a day and are open to the cold air. Washing hands throughout the day can wash off natural oils that look after your skin.
People have found that using moisturising creams after washing their hands can help keep control of hand eczema. It can stop cracking and bleeding from the knuckles.
While outside, wearing gloves can be a great way to protect hands from the cold air or wind. They should not be made of material that would make your eczema worse.
Tip 3: Turn down the heat
It can be tempting to keep the heating on high inside. But hot air can dry out the skin and cause eczema to flare up. People have found keeping the heating at no higher than 20-22 degrees keeps the skin comfortable.
Keeping the temperature in the bedroom cooler can help with being comfortable during the night. You can find out more about keeping cool at night in the ‘ sleep ’ section, which you can get from the ‘ living with eczema ’ menu above.
Tip 4: Bundle up outside
Layers can really help with your skin in the winter. This is because layers can be taken off to stop you getting too hot, which can make you itchy.
Wearing soft and breathable materials, like cotton, against the skin can help you stay comfortable while outside.
Most people with eczema find that wool makes their skin itch more. Sometimes man-made fibres, like nylon, can feel rough and irritate the skin. Clothes labels can also irritate. It is important to wear clothes that feel comfortable.
Tip 5: Warm, rather than hot, showers
Hot showers or baths can strip away the natural oils in the skin. People have found that spending less time in the shower or lowering the temperature can be helpful.
Putting on moisturising creams after your bath or shower helps protect the skin and locks in moisture.
Go to the ‘ moisturising creams ’ section from the menu above for more information about using moisturising creams
How will holidays affect my eczema?
Some people find that their eczema improves or even clears up on holiday. Some people find that seawater also helps their eczema.
For others, hot and humid climates can make eczema worse. It’s hard to know how your skin will be because everyone is different.
The next few pages explain what you could take when going on holiday that can help manage eczema on the road.
If I am over my liquids limit, then I ask my family members or friends to take some of my creams with them in their checked luggage. If they don’t have enough room, then I post the creams to myself or buy the creams when I get out there. It’s cheaper than checking baggage sometimes!
What should I think about when going on holiday?
Remember to take plenty of your flare control creams and moisturising creams with you so you don’t run out. If travelling by air make sure to pack any creams over 100ml into checked-in luggage. If you’re not checking-in any bags, you will need to move the creams into containers that are 100ml or less and can fit into a transparent re-sealable plastic bag. Some airlines do allow you to take liquids more than 100ml with a doctor’s note or a copy of your prescription. You may want to check with your airline before travelling to check if they allow this and what documents they need to see.
Some people prefer using a thinner moisturising cream during the day with hot weather. Thicker moisturising creams can make them feel hot, sticky and itchy.
Putting on sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin in the sun. Try not to rub the cream too hard to avoid setting off itching. Some sunscreens come as a spray, which may make it easier to apply. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours during the day and after swimming. Check expiry dates before packing your sunscreen.
Packing cool and loose fitting clothes can help keep you cool. Cotton clothes are ideal as cotton lets skin breathe.