Remember how the sun was considered “bad” for skin especially eczema? Recently an announcement came to our attention that reveals the truth that most of us aren’t getting enough sun in North America which can lead to a deficiency in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to our overall health ranging from skin health, reducing heart disease & cancer, reduce depression & improves bone health (increasing intestinal absorption of calcium under its influence where the body makes calcitriol, a hormone obtained through diet or by exposure to sunlight via skin (Silverthorn, 2010).
According to New York’s dermatologist, Dr. Dennis Gross, if we look more on a superficial role (specifically the skin), it can become a key to beautiful skin in order for the skin (organ) to function properly along with other benefits (James, 2012). It helps with acne, boost elasticity, enhance radiance which results to lesser lines known as wrinkles with sufficient amount of Vitamin D. Gross points out that many of us are avoiding the sun & wearing sunscreen in fear of premature aging which has an adverse effect on the skin looking dull & sallow. I must admit I was one of them. Interestingly Dr. Richard L. Gallo mentioned how vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining the natural immunity of the skin (James, 2012)
I know the unbearable sweating or overheating of our bodies from exercising, stimulates our eczema which highly prevents most of us from even engaging in any forms of physical activity. I know most of us know it and I’ll repeat it again regardless: exercise helps boost our immune system & reduces our stress level, maintaining hygiene & skin management which really helps our eczema by minimizing our flare-ups.
The only time I wouldn’t recommend it is if you are having a really bad flare-up which is similar to being sick. The imbalance in our immune system is what causes the susceptibility to skin infections (White, 2012). Therefore we can improve it by eating good foods, getting sufficient amount of vitamin D’s along with the exercise. At the same time you will also decreases many cardiovascular (CV) diseases. I could tell you that it is possible to exercise with this condition because I was training to be a certified fitness instructor for awhile (before I got preoccupied with other things) and engaging in many types of high intensity workouts including a marathon. I am also currently doing further exercise physiology research on the significant link between atopic dermatitis & exercise as part of my physiology course assignment.
I don’t believe that excess showering will cause skin dryness and scratching according to some articles written by other eczema suffers unless you are talking about the TIMING. It will help maintain moisture in the skin which is responsible in reducing the itch if you can do it within 10 mins or less. Dr. Mehmet Oz has even suggested 10 minute of shower for full skin moisture benefits. Showering is good in cooling off and washing the sweat off your skin especially after a workout so I would highly recommend it. Plus, you are more likely to use cooler water rather than hot shower which is often responsible for skin dryness. I would often take showers twice daily.
WHAT TO DO??:
Now that you know the important effects of physical activity & sun on eczema prone skin, I encourage you all to be active at your own pace while building your immunity to sweat and heading outdoors to get sufficient sun each day for proper body functioning.
Generally when UV level is high, you can try couple mins/day during the summer time. During the winter months if you live in a warmer climate like Australia, try spending 2-3 hours daily when UV is less than 3 (Cancer Council Australia, 2013). So I recommend trying a little a bit at a time exposed to sun to see if it benefits your skin. Remember it varies for every individual especially when everyone has different skin tones, as some are more sensitive to the sun than others.
And yes, I agree that getting excessive sun can cause premature aging, but not getting enough of it also has not-so-good effects in terms of skin health.
The best way to get both of best worlds in my opinion is if you can engage in any form of physical activity (speed walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading) outdoors in the sunlight under tolerable weather! I have done so during summertime, but now that it’s fall & gloomy, it gives me less incentive to run outdoors. Those of you who live in hotter areas, try to take advantage of it now because I believe those are the 2 things we should do besides eating good food.
In addition, daily exercise assists the body with vitamin D production! (Cancer Council Australia, 2013). In other words, physical activity works in conjunction with skin exposure to sunlight to efficiently synthesize Vitamin D through the skin.
I may be the first one to say this but I wouldn’t recommend any 100% cotton when exercising unless it was blended with another material used to get the sweat off from skin. I would normally go for the one labeled “dri-fit”.
Don’t forget to eat well since the food we eat can stimulate Eczema. Read my article on the “Top 3 Common Food/Drinks to look into for your Eczema Diet.”
Cancer Council Australia (2013, July 30). How much sun is enough? Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/vitamin-d/how-much-sun-is-enough.html
James, G (2012, February 23). Docs shed some light on how the “sunshine vitamin” affects your complexion. Youbeauty.com. Retrieved from http://www.youbeauty.com/skin/vitamin-d-and-skin#.
Silverthorn, D. U. (2010). Human physiology: an integrated approach (5th edition). Austin,TX: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
White, L. (2012, May 16). Exercise flare-ups: Excluding exercise is not a solution for chronic skin disease. News.Yahoo.com. Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/eczema-flare-ups-excluding-exercise-not-solution-chronic-164100988.html