How to reduce eczema flares when you're hot and sweaty working out

I am by no means a gym bunny, but I do like to go a couple of times a week if I can because I feel better for going (or is it more that I feel bad if I don't go?) Recently though, my eczema has been getting bad again so I stopped going to the gym for a while to let it recover.

Sounds like an excuse? Well, maybe partially :) But it is true that eczema is exacerbated by heat and sweat; that's why the main areas likely to be affected by eczema (especially atopic eczema) are the crooks of your arms and the backs of your knees. And trust me, at the gym I get very hot and sweaty! And as I work out I can feel the skin all up my arms and on my neck start prickling and get hotter and hotter until I can almost see the red patches rising in front of my eyes and it's very hard to refrain from scratching.

However, regular exercise is actually really good for your eczema. Aside from the holistic side of it generally making you feel better all over, exercise speeds up your metabolism and your rate of digestion, which means that any toxins - or anything that your body is intolerant to, get digested and leave your body more quickly instead of hanging around.

So how can you get the best of both worlds - proper exercise to keep you fit, without making your eczema go crazy? I've been back in the gym this week and my skin is just about surviving.

Here are my top tips for keeping your eczema under control at the gym

It's about keeping as cool and dry as you can...
  • Wear cotton clothing, or specially developed 'moisture wicking' exercise clothes that draw moisture away from your skin. You may find wearing a long sleeve top in this fabric is better than having bare arms.
  • Turn the fans on the machines up to full
  • Position yourself near the air conditioning vents if you can to get the full force of it
  • Keep yourself well hydrated with lots of cold water.
  • If you get sweaty, pat yourself dry gently with a soft, clean towel washed in skin-friendly washing liquid (non-bio)
  • You can use your bottle of cold water to cool your skin too by holding it against any patches of eczema that start to become hot aggravated. Try to do this instead of itching.
  • Give yourself cool down periods to stop your skin from getting too hot
  • After your work out, jump straight into a cold shower until your skin feels calmer. Wash with whatever you find best for your skin (or use plain cold water). I like Medimix soap for its anti-itch properties.
  • Dry yourself thoroughly but gently, apply emollient of your choice, and put your dry clothes back on
Hope this helps you!

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