Let’s get real: travel takes a toll on your body period, but especially if you have sensitive skin, dermatitis or eczema. It’s itchy, it’s uncomfortable and at times it can be unsightly. Let’s talk the best ways to avoid eczema flare ups when traveling because implementing just a few of these changes can make a big difference to your overall comfort and ability to enjoy your trip.
There’s nothing worse than being in a beautiful location, eating delicious food, enjoying great company only to be scratching yourself like a dog with fleas. I always had sensitive skin, but it wasn’t until we moved to Australia that I really began having skin problems (I guess I’m just allergic to the country) and the first trip we took after I learned I was suffering from dermatitis was ABSOLUTE TORTURE. I won’t sugar coat it. Because it was hell and back. I didn’t bring any of the ointments I should have, I didn’t take any precautions, I didn’t do anything to prevent the flare ups at all – simply because I didn’t know any better.
I don’t want that to happen to you because it’s miserable and it can ruin an entire trip. We may have skin that hates the world but dammit we will enjoy it anyway!
How To Avoid Eczema Flare Ups When Traveling
There are some things you should always do when traveling if you suffer from dermatitis or eczema, no ifs ands or buts.
Bring your own lotions.
My skin hates hates hates lotions it’s not used to. I have such dry skin I need to use lotion constantly and if I don’t bring my own and use whatever is in the hotel or whatever I can buy, my skin just throws a hissy fit like a three year old being dragged out of a candy store.
You should always bring lotion that your skin is used to because you’re changing up so much in your routine this one constant will decrease the frequency and the severity of the flare ups.
Bring your ointments and creams, no matter the size of your liquid bag.
When my skin flares up from dermatitis, lotions don’t cut it because it’s not moisturizing I need – it’s cortisone. Traveling with my prescription creams or even over the counter hydrocortisone can make a huge difference. Applying it when I have a flare up automatically soothes the itching.
Moving from climate to climate and being exposed to different allergens in new places can freak skin out so honestly you should always be prepared for this happen – even if you haven’t had a flare up in a few months. There are times my skin is absolutely fine at home for months but as soon as I go somewhere new I get those itchy red bumps all over my hands and fingers.
Hydrate to avoid eczema flare ups on planes.
I mean both yourself and your skin. There are some useful tips to avoid eczema flare ups on planes: first and foremost, drink plenty of water! I find my flare ups happen for several different reasons and are only exacerbated when I’m not drinking enough and it is so easy to get dehydrated on a plane.
Plane air is very dry and can wreck havoc on even the most durable skin so you need to be extra cautious. I’ll admit, I can be really bad about drinking enough on airplanes, especially when I’m trying to sleep and don’t want to have to futz around to get more water, but you absolutely must do it.
Secondly, moisturize constantly. Long haul flight skincare is critical when you have eczema. My dermatitis flare ups during travel almost always start on the plane so I make sure to bring a little lotion I can stick in my purse and apply throughout the flight when I feel like my skin is getting a little dry again.
Eczema and flying do not particularly go together, so we have to take extra care to make sure we’re doing everything to prevent the flare up before it happens.
Remember: long haul flight skincare is the key to prevention and that includes moisturizing before take off, in the air and especially once you’re in your new climate.
Just in general I’m pretty allergic to the world around me (think sneezing, runny nose and red eyes) so I always have antihistamines with me anyway (unless I forget them… which is more often than it should be), but they can be useful when you have dermatitis flare ups as well. Anything from different laundry detergent to dust mites in the hotel you’re staying in can cause your skin to check out before you’re ready to.
If you have a flare up while traveling, taking an antihistamine can give you some long term relief or be an added safeguard in case you run out of cream, lose it or something else happens.
Wear loose fitting cotton clothes.
Have you ever been so hot you start sweating and your tight jeans start chaffing and before you know it your skin is rubbed raw, you’re uncomfortable and just want to lay down in a comfy bed, drinking wine and watching Netflix rather than explore or be outside? Of course you have, you’re human.
The same principle applies for dermatitis and eczema flare ups. If you wear looser clothes there’s less opportunity for sweat and rubbing to irritate your skin further.
Bring weather-appropriate clothing.
Dermatitis and eczema are worse in the summer or winter, so you should make sure you’re bringing weather-appropriate clothes for these extreme tempratures. Make sure to have hats and sunscreen for hot climates and gloves and heavy duty moisturizer on hand (see what I did there?) when it’s very cold.
Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula Hand Cream has been a saving grace for me. It’s been able to hydrate my skin more than anything else I’ve tried so I would highly recommend it for daily use. Additionally, I have started using First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (which conveniently comes in a huge pot for home and a travel size as well) and it has been amazing! I had this stubborn patch that would not go away with anything I tried and two days of this and poof, no trace of it at all.
Eczema Travel Insurance
Here’s the thing: having travel and health insurance is critical for everyone, but especially if you have a recurring health issue. You absolutely must make sure you have travel insurance that covers eczema and, if not, get eczema travel insurance. You can get free quotes online but I would highly recommend making sure you’re covered because you never know when a flare up is going to be so bad you need to see a doctor.
I was very close to needing to do that when I was in Indonesia and my flare up was so severe I had tumor-sized bumps on my fingers, I couldn’t even bend them because of the pain and itching and I was in a constant state of stress because of it. If I needed to see a doctor, I didn’t know if I was covered for it and I wouldn’t even have known where to go to do it.
In the end I didn’t need to see a doctor because some over the counter hydrocortisone healed it enough until I was home to use my prescription ointment. Ultimately, make sure your eczema is covered and make sure you know what to do if you need to use it.
These seven tips are the best ways to avoid eczema flare ups when traveling, eczema flare ups on planes and generally when you’re moving from climate to climate. If you have any tips for yourself, I’d love if you shared them in the comments below!