Managing Eczema in Different Climates: Tips for Traveling with Confidence

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Key Points

  • Traveling with eczema presents challenges due to different climates, environments, and exposure to new irritants.

  • Hot and humid climates cause excessive sweating, skin irritation, and UV exposure.

  • Skin becomes dry and chapped in cold, dry weather, and coarse clothing irritates the skin.

  • Packing essential items like prescription medications, moisturizers, cotton clothing, a humidifier, and sunscreen is important when traveling with eczema.

  • Seeking local resources, including dermatologists and pharmacies, is helpful if you experience a flare-up while traveling.

Dealing with the complications of eczema isn't an easy task. Your skin often becomes irritated, and it's challenging to know when you're going to have a flare-up. You're likely used to your management plan at home, but what about when you travel with eczema?

Don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of detail and work that goes into caring for your eczema. You can and should travel as you want. For Labor Day 2023, over 57 percent of Americans traveled. Don't get left behind — once you learn the ins and outs of possible triggers and tips for management, you can easily travel with eczema. Stay positive and prepared!

Traveling With Eczema

Eczema triggers vary from person to person, but specific locations or environments are more likely to provoke eczema triggers or flare-ups. Dry climates, such as deserts with low humidity, dry your skin and exacerbate symptoms. Cold and dry winter climates strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to increased dryness and itching. Cold weather combined with harsh winds further irritates eczema-prone skin. Hot and humid climates, while beneficial for some, trigger eczema due to increased sweating.

Potentially New Triggers

Urban environments expose you to pollution and environmental irritants that irritate sensitive skin. Chlorinated pools, saltwater, and sandy beach locations are harsh on the skin. Pollen-rich areas with abundant vegetation and seasonal allergies are potential eczema triggers. Industrial areas with increased air pollution often exacerbate symptoms. Higher altitudes in mountainous areas usually have lower humidity levels and intense sun exposure, potentially leading to skin dryness and irritation.

Travel exposes you to new allergens, irritants, or skincare products that might trigger eczema flare-ups. Eczema triggers are highly individual, so you need to understand your triggers and how your skin reacts to different environments. When visiting or moving to locations with potential triggers, prepare with your consistent skincare routine and any prescribed medications or treatments. While you should aim to maintain the core principles of your skincare routine, some adjustments are necessary to account for travel-related factors.

Airplane Cabin

If traveling by plane, be aware that the cabin gets very dry. Long-haul flights often cause dry skin issues for people without existing eczema! Before boarding a long flight, complete your skincare routine to protect your skin from dryness before it happens.

Once you're on the flight, skincare expert Mary Honkus says, "Use [your] lip balm and hand cream as needed and be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours (with clean or sanitized hands!) — and try to keep the airplane window shade down if possible to avoid unnecessary sun exposure. Don't forget to drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, too!"

A woman applies sunscreen.

Challenges of Hot and Humid Climates

A hot and humid climate poses several challenges for someone with eczema. Excessive sweating is a significant concern. In a hot and humid environment, most people sweat significantly more, and sweat irritates sensitive skin, leading to itching, redness, and discomfort. Increased humidity leads to increased moisture on the skin's surface, making it difficult for individuals with eczema to maintain proper skin hydration. This excess moisture leads to further skin irritation.

Heat and humidity, in combination, trigger eczema flare-ups in some people. Increased blood flow to the skin's surface in response to heat exacerbates inflammation and itching. These weather conditions create an environment for the growth of bacteria and fungi. Eczema-prone skin is more vulnerable to infections, and the moist climate increases the risk of secondary skin infections.

Excessive sun exposure without proper protection worsens eczema symptoms by damaging the skin barrier and increasing inflammation. Some of these hot climates have different allergens and irritants, such as pollen, dust, mites, and spores, which trigger eczema for some people.


Clothing choices are crucial to manage eczema in a hot and humid climate. Wearing heavy or restrictive clothing increases sweating and discomfort. Find breathable, hypoallergenic fabrics that don't irritate the skin. Opt for loose-fitting, breathable clothing made of natural fibers like cotton. Avoid synthetic fabrics and tight-fitting garments that can trap sweat. Try your best to stay cool by using fans or air conditioning to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, avoiding excessive outdoor heat, and taking cool showers or baths when necessary.

Keeping the skin clean is crucial. Frequent bathing and gentle cleansing remove sweat and allergens from the skin. Use mild, fragrance-free cleansers and avoid hot water, which further dries out the skin. Regularly moisturize. Applying a hypoallergenic moisturizer after bathing and throughout the day keeps the skin hydrated. Moisturizers with ceramides help to repair the skin barrier.

Use sunscreen with a high SPF and wear protective clothing, such as lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats, to shield your skin from the sun. Identify and minimize exposure to allergens and irritants in your environment. Consider using air purifiers and allergen-proof covers on bedding.

If eczema symptoms exacerbate in hot and humid weather, consult your dermatologist for personalized treatment options to manage your condition.

Protecting Your Skin in Cold and Dry Weather

Cold and dry weather presents its own set of difficulties for individuals with eczema. One of the primary challenges is skin dryness. Low humidity levels cause moisture loss from the skin, worsening the dryness and making the skin more susceptible to irritation and itching. Cold temperatures also cause the skin to become chapped and cracked, further compromising the skin's barrier function.

Indoor heating systems reduce humidity levels inside, drying your skin out. Exposure to direct heat sources, like fireplaces or space heaters, leads to localized dryness and worsens symptoms in affected areas.

Cold air and wind are particularly harsh on the skin, leading to increased inflammation and itching. Additionally, frequent temperature changes, such as going from cold outdoor air to warm indoor environments, stress the skin and worsen eczema symptoms.

Wearing heavy clothing and fabrics irritates the skin. Wool and other coarse materials exacerbate itching and discomfort, making it challenging for individuals with eczema to stay warm without worsening their symptoms.


When in cold weather, it's essential to maintain proper skin hydration. Regularly applying a thick emollient moisturizer locks in moisture and prevents dryness. It's crucial to moisturize immediately after bathing or washing hands to seal in moisture.

Avoiding hot showers or baths is beneficial, as hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and worsens dryness. Instead, opt for lukewarm water and use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers. Use a humidifier to increase indoor humidity. Place the humidifiers in bedrooms and common areas to combat dry air and maintain your skin's moisture. This is also good for your breathing if you suffer from allergies in the atopic triad (allergies such as eczema, asthma, and food allergies).

Protect your skin from the harsh cold and wind. Choose soft, breathable fabrics like cotton as the innermost layer to minimize skin irritation. Layer clothing on top to stay warm! UV radiation is still present in the cold, so continue using sunscreen in cold weather to prevent skin damage.

Consult your dermatologist if eczema symptoms worsen in cold and dry weather. They can recommend treatment options to effectively manage eczema during these conditions.

A woman walks in the snow.

Eczema Care Essentials for Travel

When traveling with eczema, you must pack a well-thought-out set of items to manage your condition and ensure your comfort. Here's a list of items to consider packing:

  • Prescription Medications: Bring any prescribed creams, ointments, or oral medications that you use to manage eczema.

  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Topical Treatments: Include non-prescription moisturizers, emollients, and hydrocortisone creams for daily skin care and itch relief. Prepare for changing environments, including thicker emollients or ointments for dry climates.

  • Regular Skincare Routine: Purchase travel-sized versions of your favorite gentle cleanser, shampoo, and conditioner to maintain your skincare routine.

  • Sunscreen: Bring a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the sun, as eczema-prone skin can be more sensitive to UV radiation.

  • Hydrating Lip Balm: Don't forget to take care of your lips with a hydrating lip balm.

  • Cleansing Wipes: Wipes are helpful for on-the-go cleansing when you can't access water and soap.

  • Cotton Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable cotton clothing that won't irritate your skin. Layers are also helpful for adapting to changing temperatures.

  • Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent: If you're doing laundry during your trip, use a hypoallergenic detergent to prevent skin irritation from clothing. A travel-sized laundry bag keeps dirty clothing separate and organized during your trip.

  • Allergen-Proof Pillow Cases and Mattress Covers: If allergies trigger your eczema, consider travel-sized allergen-proof covers for pillows and mattresses.

  • Travel-Sized Humidifier:portable humidifier maintains moisture levels in your room if you're staying in a dry environment.

  • Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential for eczema management, so having a reusable water bottle with you is necessary.

  • Eczema-Friendly Snacks: Bring snacks that don't trigger your eczema if dietary choices affect your skin health.

  • Travel Journal: Keeping a travel journal allows you to track potential eczema triggers and flare-ups, allowing you to make adjustments as needed.

Consult with your healthcare provider or dermatologist before traveling to discuss any specific recommendations or concerns related to your eczema. Packing these items helps you proactively manage your eczema while enjoying your travels with greater comfort and ease.

Seeking Medical Attention During Travel

Before going on a trip, contact your dermatologist to tell them where you're going. They can give you personalized recommendations to handle your condition in this environment, copies of necessary records or prescriptions, and perhaps a local contact of a dermatologist in case you need it.


Check in with your health insurance before traveling to know if you have coverage abroad. Inquire about their coverage for medical services while traveling. Some insurance plans offer coverage for out-of-network or emergency medical care, including dermatology services, alleviating costs. Travel insurance is an incredible safety net that offers benefits beyond healthcare abroad. Check if your travel insurance includes access to a medical concierge service, which assists you in finding appropriate healthcare providers.


If you need to consult a doctor during your trip, contact your regular dermatologist. Many healthcare providers and dermatologists offer virtual consultations, which is especially useful when traveling and needing immediate advice or prescriptions. If you need medication, locate a local pharmacy to find out if you need a prescription. Countries have different OTC remedies, so you may not need a prescription. If you do, you may be able to virtually obtain one from your doctor.

Seeing a Local Doctor

If you need to see a doctor locally, harness the power of online resources. Utilize search engines, online directories, and review websites to find dermatologists in your destination. Websites such as Healthgrades, Zocdoc, or Yelp provide information on dermatologists' locations, patient reviews, and contact details. You could also visit the local hospital or clinic where you're staying. These institutions often have information about local dermatologists and may even have on-site dermatology departments.

For additional resources for doctors, especially if you're visiting somewhere long-term, ask local people and hotel staff for information. They might be familiar with reputable dermatologists in the area or able to guide you to nearby medical facilities. Online travel forums and social media groups are a great way to seek recommendations and advice from fellow travelers who have faced similar medical situations while abroad. Networking is powerful!

Prepare with a translation app in case there's a language barrier. Be ready to provide details about your condition, the medications you're taking, and your medical history. Inquire about appointment availability, fees, and any required documentation, such as travel insurance or identification. Always prioritize your health and seek professional medical assistance if you experience significant eczema-related issues while traveling.

Travel Smoothly

Don't let your eczema hold you back. Learn the potential triggers and how to handle them depending on the climate and area you're traveling to. It takes extra time and precision to pack for your trip due to eczema, but once you're prepared, you'll surely enjoy it. Take care of yourself for a smooth trip and smooth skin!

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