Teen Eczema Q&A with Dr Lynn Chiam – Sweat & Sports

Dr Lynn Chiam, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions

This blog has covered lots on children with eczema, but as they grow older, eczema may present a different set of challenges and in a different form (for instance, due to puberty). MarcieMom is privileged to have Dr Lynn Chiam of Children & Adult Skin Hair Laser Clinic, a consultant dermatologist who subspecializes in paediatric skin conditions at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Medical Centre, Singapore. Dr Chiam is a mum to three young children and is expecting her 4th child at the end of the year.

More on Dr Lynn Chiam – Dr Lynn was formerly the head of paediatric dermatology at National Skin Centre, Singapore before leaving for private practice. She has vast experience in childhood atopic dermatitis and childhood birthmarks. Apart from paediatric dermatology, her other subspecialty interests include adult pigmentary conditions and laser dermatology. She has published numerous articles and has contributed articles to various magazines and newspapers. She helped set up the Eczema Support Group for both children and adults and is currently the Medical Advisor to the group.

Marcie Mom: Sweat can be a trigger for eczema and teenagers are at a very active stage of their life. If a child’s eczema is often triggered by sweat, would you advise parents to encourage their child to take up an indoor sport? Are there certain sports that you think are better suited to eczema children? For instance, is swimming or squash or gymnastics more suitable than soccer or tennis?

If a teenager chooses to engage in a sport that’s outdoors and sweat a lot, what advice would you give him/her to manage the eczema?

Dr Lynn Chiam: Sweat and heat can be a trigger for eczema. However, it is best for a teenager with eczema to lead as normal a life as possible and participate in the sport he likes. Unless the eczema is very severe and difficult to control, I will not limit the choice of sports the teenager chooses. It is more important to know about good skin care and to apply creams correctly, which will help improve eczema, than to totally avoid certain sports.

Swimming for long periods during a bad flare of eczema is not advisable as the swimming pool water may cause more skin dryness.

I will advise that if you participate in a sport that will cause you to sweat a lot, to take a damp cloth to wipe away the sweat immediately after exercising followed by drying the skin with a dry cloth. If possible, take a shower using gentle soap shortly after the exercise and apply moisturizer immediately after bathing.

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  1. A useful guide by Weather.com on sports and eczema

    Warm weather solutions:
    Wear light, soft, natural-fiber clothing that breathes, and avoid tight clothing.
    Wear fewer clothes to bed and use fewer sheets to avoid night sweats.
    If itchiness occurs, use cold wet compresses to reduce the irritation.
    Avoid strenuous exercise during particularly hot days, or during flare-ups.
    Keep the thermostat set to a low temperature.
    If your child is of school-age and has eczema, ask that they be seated away from heat sources in the classroom, such as a vent, radiator, or near a sunny window.
    Maintain healthy skin care habits.
    Use sunblock.

    Tips for sports and play:
    Choose activities that will not result in excessive sweating, especially during flare-ups.
    Make sure that sports uniforms are not made of synthetic materials. Cotton or a cotton blend is optimal.
    Use sunblock if playing outside.
    Apply an emollient before and after swimming to prevent drying and flares. Chlorine can irritate the skin and chlorinated pools should be avoided.
    Maintain healthy skin care habits.