Seeing red: eczema and exercise
Anyone who suffers from eczema will know how painful, itchy and embarrassing it can be – especially if it affects the skin on your face, but eczema can also be a huge hindrance when it comes to exercising.
Eczema can be triggered by many factors such as allergies, genetics, fatigue and stress. If we focus on the latter – stress and fatigue – regular exercise may spring to mind as an obvious solution, due to the fact that exercise is commonly known to reduce stress and boost vitality.
However, nothing’s ever quite that simple is it? Exercise can, in fact, exacerbate eczema.
When we exercise, the body naturally produces sweat, which is salty and dehydrates the skin. In the case of eczema, the result can be severely irritated skin.
However, this doesn’t means that eczema sufferers need to go from gym bunny to couch potato and halt exercising completely, it just requires some careful consideration. For example:
- Reduce the intensity of your workout sessions or exercise less frequently.
- Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated and to reduce the saltiness of your perspiration.
- Reduce the humidity by exercising outdoors or at least in a well ventilated room.
- Mix aerobic exercise with low impact fitness such as walking and mind/body classes like yoga, tai chi and pilates.
- Avoid chlorinated swimming pools as chlorine can further irritate the skin.
- Take a cool/warm (not hot) shower immediately after exercising to wash the perspiration off your body and help get rid of the salt.
- Use a gentle, chemical-free body wash that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils.
- Try to steer clear of synthetic sports clothes and choose cotton instead.
Despite your skin condition, it’s important to keep the skin hydrated. This can be easier said than done as many moisturising products contain preservatives that can further irritate the skin.
Opting for natural products can be beneficial; try rosehip or avocado oil. Avocado oil in particular contains sterolins, helping to heal and repair the skin as well as offering emollient benefits.
Harnessing the hydrating powers of avocado at home
The skin of the avocado skin is thought to contain hydrating properties, which can be reaped by rubbing it on human skin in upward movements. Allow the oil to remain on the skin for a few minutes (up to 15 minutes) before rinsing off with cool water.
To make an avocado-based face mask for dry skin, simply mash the pulp of an avocado with the yolk of one egg. Apply to the face and relax for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
It’s important not to allow your eczema to control your life, and the last thing you want to do is cut out exercise. Eczema sufferers who face post-workout flare-ups just need to give themselves the time to find an alternative fitness plan that doesn’t aggravate their condition.
by Leanne Philpott