Running with Eczema: How to Manage Symptoms and Enjoy an Active Life
Dealing with Eczema as a Runner
I remember in high school when I was a softball player and athlete. While not a runner, still a very active teenager. I always had this area on the back of my neck that would bother me and flare up when I would be in the sun and get nice and sweaty from playing ball. Never knew what it was until I was an adult. Now, as an adult, I still deal with my eczema as a runner and have found ways to manage it.
In this post, I want to talk all about eczema and how to deal with it as a runner or anyone that lives a very active lifestyle!
related article:Chronic Pain and Running: The Miracle Cure?
What is Eczema
As I said, growing up I didn’t know what the patch of skin on the back of my neck was. Now that I’m an adult I’ve been to a dermatologist and know exactly what I’m dealing with.
Eczema (eg-zuh-MUH) is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchiness, dry skin, rashes, scaly patches, blisters, and skin infections. Itchy skin, however, is the most common symptom of eczema.
The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis (sometimes called atopic eczema), which results from an overactive immune system. This results in your skin barrier becoming dry and itchy.
The exact cause of eczema is still unknown, but researchers do know that people will develop eczema because of an interaction between their genes and environmental triggers such as hay fever, allergic asthma, and food allergies.
Symptoms of Eczema
As stated before, the key symptoms of eczema are dry, itchy skin. But these are just the common mild symptoms and can be a symptom of many different issues.
A more comprehensive list of symptoms of eczema includes:
- Dryness, sensitive skin;
- Inflamed, discolored skin;
- Rough, leathery, or scaly skin, appearing as scaly patches;
- Oozing or crusting;
- Areas of swelling
Most people will always present with dry and itchy skin as well as some or all of the other symptoms.
How Running Contributes to Eczema
Whenever we go for a run, or any workout activity actually, we usually going to sweat a bit. Sweat does wonderful things to cool us down but it can also cause a flare-up of eczema on a person.
Working out leads to the loss of body fluids, which dehydrates your skin. Moreover, as sweat evaporates away from your skin surface, salt is left behind and further dries it out.
This can lead to irritation and skin discomfort, making it more difficult for you to enjoy running.
Additionally, when people are running outdoors or at the gym, they’re exposed to different environmental triggers like pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and other allergens that can cause eczema flare-ups.
Lastly working out can also lead to stress. Stress can cause the release of hormones that interfere with our immune system and make skin conditions like eczema worse.
How to Manage Eczema While Running
If you want to keep running despite having eczema, there are a few things you can do:
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise
Not only is this a good practice when running, but your skin will thank you too. As we said before, dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of eczema when exercising so staying hydrated is definitely helpful.
Choose the Right Clothes
There are so many options out there available to wear for exercise. In addition to your basic materials, there is a slew of man-made materials designed to wick sweat and keep you cool. But proceed with caution with these materials, as they may irritate your skin more.
When it comes to exercising, stick with light and airy fabrics such as cotton. Not only will your skin thank you for wearing looser-fitting clothes that don’t trap sweat, but they’ll also be more comfortable – meaning fewer distractions while working out!
Moisturize Before and After Running
It is important to keep your skin properly hydrated, especially before and after exercise. You should apply a generous amount of moisturizer all over the body before you start exercising, focusing on areas where you are prone to eczema outbreaks. Opt for a cream about an hour before exercising to keep it light.
After you have finished working out, it’s time to rehydrate your skin with some more moisturizing cream.
No Hot Showers!
While hot showers feel divine after a sweaty run, stay clear of them and focus more on warm showers that you gradually reduce the temperature of during it. The increased heat will irritate your skin, zap moisture, and increase inflammation.
Final Thoughts on Running with Eczema
While I admit running with eczema isn’t the most comfortable thing, it is something that can be managed. Make sure to talk to your dermatologist about the best ways to manage it when you are running, especially if you notice more flare-ups after runs!
With the right steps and persistence, you can still enjoy running without worrying about eczema. Just remember to hydrate, moisturize, choose the right clothes, and take lukewarm showers! Good luck!
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All information should be used as a tool for more knowledge on the subject topic, to use as references for later articles where applicable, or just to keep it in mind during future exercise routines or activities.
This article is not meant to give medical advice or to replace professional health care. Should any ailment occur please contact your doctor or physical therapist immediately to keep yourself safe and prevent further damage.
The author is not liable for any personal or commercial damage directly or indirectly related to the content hereof. You are responsible for adhering to local laws and regulations regarding health & safety, including proper use of equipment or safety gear, and compliance with governing healthcare associations, and state, and federal regulations.
References for Running with Eczema
- Kim A, Silverberg JI. A systematic review of vigorous physical activity in eczema. Br J Dermatol. 2016 Mar;174(3):660-2. doi: 10.1111/bjd.14179. Epub 2015 Dec 29. PMID: 26385020; PMCID: PMC5216171.
Running with Eczema
Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.