Why is eczema worse in warm weather?

Q: Our baby's eczema seems to get worse with warm weather. Why is this?

A: Eczema -- an irritating rash that is often triggered by allergies -- is generally considered a cold-weather condition, since the combination of dry air and indoor heat can leave skin extra parched and irritated. But summer can make eczema worse for many children, for several reasons:

- The pool: Chlorine-filled pools are harsh on kids with eczema since they can be drying. Dabbing a petroleum-based jelly like Vaseline or Aquaphor on your baby's most rashy spots before taking a dip can help. When you bring baby out of the pool, rinse him with clean (non-chlorinated) water and apply a gentle moisturizing lotion or cream. - The sun: Many kids with eczema are more sun-sensitive (some are even allergic to the sun) and have flare-ups that start the minute they start spending time outside. Although you should apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 45 over your baby's exposed skin, certain sunscreen formulas can cause allergic reactions. Look for fragrance-free, sensitive-skin formulas, or ask your pediatrician for recommendations. You may have some trial and error until you find a brand that doesn't irritate your baby's skin. - Sweat: When perspiration pools in the folds of your baby's skin, like the inner elbows or backs of his knees, it can cause irritation that worsens eczema. Be sure to wipe down your child's nooks and crannies with a cool washcloth and pat him dry after playtime. - Seasonal allergies: When the temperature rises, allergy triggers like pollen and ragweed increase too, and these triggers have been linked to eczema. If you suspect seasonal allergies are a factor, check pollen counts and try minimizing your baby's time outside on those allergen-heavy days.

If your child's eczema is getting worse or seems painful, talk to your pediatrician. He can prescribe a topical cream to soften your baby's skin and stop the itch, if you're not already using one, or recommend a stronger dose or other types of treatments if you are.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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