Dealing with eczema on a daily basis is tough enough but add to that your desire for exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind can cause more problems than it solves. For people with skin irritations such as eczema, the effects of working out can cause flare ups. First, it is important to understand how the sweat and toil of a workout can cause eczema to flare up.
No matter how light or intense a workout you have, chances are you sweat. Even just a little can be enough to dry out skin and worse, cause eczema to sting. As your body loses moisture the dry, irritated skin can get worse. Wearing tight fitting clothing such as capri leggings with tight waist bands or snug dry fit tops can rub against areas making it an uncomfortable experience. Choose lightweight, cotton breathable workout clothes.
Make sure you hydrate before, during and after your workout. Take frequent breaks to make sure you don’t overheat your body. Regulating your body temperature is essential in keeping your skin healthy and flare ups down. Getting overheated can cause eczema to inflame and itch something fierce. You aren’t lessening your workout with frequent breaks, you are being smart in caring for your body.
Using ice packs can help relieve itch and inflammation of eczema as well. You don’t have to wait until you get home. Grab a portable one and keep it in a bag of ice. Use it to cool irritated skin on a water break. This will help keep you motivated to keep going if you have immediate relief at the tip of your fingers.
So what types of workouts are best for you? Because there is scientific evidence of stress being linked to eczema, choosing a stress relieving workout is ideal. While you may want to go hard in a 45-minute spin class, it may cause your skin to get irritated, not to mention the loss of fluids having a negative impact on your eczema. There is no silver bullet exercise that is perfect for someone dealing with eczema but activities such as yoga, tai chi and even walking or gardening will burn calories and reduce stress.
One type of exercise that could benefit you if you are suffering from eczema is swimming. While chlorine can irritate the skin, for some people it has a very positive effect in clearing up eczema. It all depends on how your body reacts, what type of chlorine is used and how often/timing it is put into the pool. Before diving in, contact the pool manager and find out the details of what they use and test it out. Also, open water swimming can be good too, though challenging in the winter. Saltwater can sting but the cool water can be soothing too. It all depends on how your skin reacts to the different types of water.
There is nothing better than a nice hot shower after a good workout… unless you have eczema. Refrain from the hot showers as the heat will only irritate your condition. Also, using emollients or thick moisturizers before and after working out will help keep skin hydrated and cool. If you do have flare-ups, try the Ultimate Eczema Kit from Cheryl Lee MD. It comes with three great products including a deep moisturizer perfect for before and after workouts.
Whatever you do to stay healthy, don’t let eczema hold you back. Learning to manage the flare-ups and have a regular self-care routine will keep you motivated and on the path to all around great health.