Team sports can boost children’s confidence, create camaraderie, release stress, and make it easier for kids to focus in the classroom. But when sports cause itchy eczema flare-ups, your child may not feel as excited or encouraged to join the team. Here’s how to help your child navigate school sports while managing eczema.
Eczema and Exercise: Can Sweat Cause Eczema?
Let’s face it: Kids sweat when they’re running around and playing games! Sweat doesn’t cause eczema, but it can trigger it. When sweat evaporates, it leaves behind sodium that can dry out and irritate your child’s skin. Unfortunately, this may be even more prone to occur after physical education class or times when your child can’t bathe immediately after physical exertion.
Grass is another common trigger of eczema. With many school sports taking place on grass, this — or a combination of sweat and grass — could be behind your child’s sports-related flare-ups. Protect your child from grass exposure with long pants and long sleeves if necessary. You may want to make sure your child’s clothes are loose fitting so they don’t get too hot.
How to Help Your Child Enjoy School Sports
With a few tips and tricks, you can help your child enjoy sports while minimizing eczema flare-ups.
Talk to Your Child’s Coach
Eczema is a complicated skin condition, and, unfortunately, not everyone understands it. Talk to your child’s coach to make sure they understand your child’s eczema, and other related conditions, such as allergies and asthma, that could impact their participation. That way the coach can provide a supportive environment, make accommodations as necessary, and ensure that your child has access to the appropriate medications, creams, and eczema management tools they need during practice and games.
Dress Your Child in Eczema-Friendly Clothing
Have your child wear breathable cotton clothing with a loose fit when possible. If uniforms made of polyester or other synthetic materials are required, you can still help make your child more comfortable. Cut off any tags that can irritate the skin, and cover seams with a soft material. Opt for a loose fit and wash the uniform in fragrance-free detergent before your child wears it for the first time and between uses.
Avoid Sports in Peak Afternoon Heat
The hotter it is outside, the more likely your child is to get itchy and sweaty, which can lead to an eczema flare. The temperature is typically the hottest around 3 p.m. If possible, help your player avoid physical exertion outside between the hours of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. so they don’t overheat.
Remember to Take Breaks and Cool Down
Talk to your child and suggest they take breaks when they begin to feel overheated. This helps to prevent drastic spikes in body temperature, which can cause itching attacks and contribute to eczema flare-ups. Use break time to give your child cool ice water, which will help your child hydrate and lower their body temperature. You can also help your child cool down with ice packs or ice cubes, a portable fan, or a clean washcloth soaked in cool water.
Swim While Minimizing Chlorine-Related Triggers
Does your child want to join the swim team? Great! Swimming is a healthy form of exercise that helps keep sweat from sitting on the skin. Some people find that swimming has the same benefits for their skin as a bleach bath. Others find that chlorine pools make their skin condition worse, and some studies suggest that repeated exposure to chlorine can damage the skin barrier and contribute to higher rates of eczema.
You can help your child minimize eczema flare-ups triggered by chlorine by applying a barrier cream before swimming, wearing sunscreen, taking a shower or bath as soon as they get out of the water, and moisturizing as soon as they get out.
Rinse Off Right Away
Showering immediately after physical exertion helps prevent sweat from irritating the skin. Encourage your child to use warm, not hot, water to bathe. Make sure that any products they use, such as body wash, shampoo, and face wash, are fragrance-free and gentle on the skin.
Moisturize and Soothe with Gladskin
Immediately after a shower or bath, apply a moisturizer to your child’s skin. We recommend Gladskin’s Eczemact™ Soothing Cream for Babies & Kids, which is steroid-free, fragrance-free, and minimally formulated. It repairs dry skin from eczema-prone skin and contains our smart protein Micreobalance, which restores balance to the skin microbiome.
Watch Your Child Thrive
Eczema shouldn’t prevent your child from living an active life and participating in the activities they love. Know that with appropriate accommodations, playing sports is possible.