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Eczema: Follow this top tip to avoid a flare-up when travelling

Eczema causes the the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked, sore and red. Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body. Although people can go through periods when symptoms are less noticeable, severe flare-ups can strike periodically. This can be a particular nuisance when people are travelling – here is one major tip to avert a flare-up.

Travel stresses everyone out, and for people with eczema, pre-trip jitters can trigger a flare, said the National Eczema Association (NEA).

One top tip is to step up your skin care regimen a few days before you leave, whether that means two baths a day to maximise moisturisation or extra vigilance in applying topical steroids to hot spots, said Jennifer Moyer Darr, a licensed clinical social worker in the division of paediatric behavioural health at National Jewish Health in Denver.

“If you’re teetering on the edge of a flare, the odds are good that travel will knock you over. With extra care, you might still experience issues, but they’ll be less likely to ruin your trip,” she said.

As outlined by the NEA, here are some other challenges posed by travelling and ways people with eczema overcome them:

Challenge: Changing climates

Many people with eczema flare when they travel into a different environment, said Karol Timmons, a paediatric nurse practitioner and clinical coordinator in the division of allergy and immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Solution: “Understand what kind of climate triggers skin irritation for you and think about what you’ll be doing so you can bring everything you might need,” Timmons said. She advises packing about twice as much medication and moisturiser as you think you’ll need.

Look for hotels with bathtubs for soaking in moisture and rentals with hardwood floors

Karol Timmons

Challenge: Flying

Recirculated air and close quarters mean you’re easily exposed to other travellers’ illnesses. And, if you a check a bag, it may not arrive at your destination when you do, said the NEA.

Solution: Wipe down your seat, arm rests and other surfaces with antibacterial wipes. Pack a carry-on with a two-day supply of medications, moisturisers, inhalers and EpiPens, advised the health site.

“Keep medications in their original containers and bring a letter from your physician if you want to pre-board (a good idea to get time to settle in and relax) or need to carry on liquid medications that exceed the normal limits (3.4 ounces),” it added.

Challenge: Contact allergies

You can encounter everything from dusty rugs and pet dander in a friend’s home to feather pillows and reaction-causing cleaning products in hotels to dust mites almost anywhere, explained the NEA.

Solution: If you’re allergic to dust mites, Timmons suggests taking along a fitted dust mite bed and pillow cover.

“Some hotels offer feather-free rooms in which you’re less likely to be exposed,” she said.

Call hotels in advance and request accommodations that will lower your risk of a flare.

“Ask them to use unscented cleaning products or to let you clean the room with your own products, for example,” Timmons said.

She added: “Look for hotels with bathtubs for soaking in moisture and rentals with hardwood floors. If you’re staying with a friend or relative, discuss your needs well before you go to give your hosts time to prepare.”

Use a grocery delivery service to supply bleach for baths or the cleaning and laundry products you use at home, added the NEA.

Challenge: Food allergies

It’s easy to end up hungry with few safe food options when you’re stuck in an airport terminal or driving the last stretch of a long road trip, said the NEA.

Solution: Include a stash of your go-to snacks in your carry-on or easily accessible bag. Call restaurants in advance and ask if they can accommodate your or your child’s food restrictions, advised the health site.

Challenge: A bad flare

Solution: If you think a bad flare is likely, ask your healthcare provider to write a prescription so you’ll be able to get the medication you need quickly, noted the health body.

“Also keep in your back pocket all the eczema tools you’ve learned about,” said Timmons. “For example, you may not have needed to do wet wraps in years, but when you’re on vacation and have a bad flare, it might save your trip.

Challenge: International travel

When you’re traveling in your own country, you can usually find your brand of moisturiser or laundry detergent, explained the NEA.

It added: “Overseas, all bets are off. It may also be hard to tell if menu items contain ingredients you or your child is allergic to.”

Solution: “Ship needed products to your destination a couple weeks before leaving,” advised the health body.

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