5 Tips to Prevent an Eczema Flare Up During Halloween

Hand made burgers for my Hamburglar costume!

Because most of the weekend was spent prepping my costume at the last minute, at a wicked Halloween party (excuse the pun, I just had to throw it in!) and muchos sleeping in, I’m skipping this week’s Weekend Snapshots. Instead, I thought I’d share some useful tips (that I also used!) to prevent an explosive eczema flare up around this scary and festive day!

1. Make Sure Your Costume Doesn’t Irritate Your Skin

Fabric Choice
You know the drill – 100% cotton is the most commomly recommended fabric for sensitive skin and eczema. A lot of retail costumes, the kind you can buy online or at a costume store) are made from relatively cheap fabrics that can easily irritate the skin. I rented a Poison Ivy costume for a party last year and the dress was made from polyester and acrylic fabric, with a wool-like texture that was really scratchy. By avoiding head-to-toe costumes from the store, you’re making sure s little skin as possible is irritated by these fabrics. If you really need to go head-to-toe, DIY the costume if you have time. That way you ensure you’re choosing cottons or other gentle, non-irritating fabrics. I dressed up as Hamburglar this year, complete with a DIY hamburger tie and an itchy red patch of eczema on my shoulder. I deliberately chose a sleeveless tank dress to avoid fabric coming into contact with my shoulder area. I added a cape, so I could easily cover up my eczema under strong light, or pull back away from my shoulder in the dark.

Sweat can also trigger and irritate eczema, especially if you don’t wipe or wash it off immediately. If you know you’re going somewhere warm or indoors, avoid head-to-toe costumes in non-breathable fabrics like polyester, nylon or acrylic, especially for hand eczema. Avoid costumes that require gloves, or choose cotton or other breathable gloves. Polyester gets me itching every single time.

2. Be Careful with the Face Paint

On Twitter this weekend, someone asked about wearing makeup during a flare up. It’s probably not a good idea, and if makeup is a bad idea then face paint is probably a worse idea. A big nono! Unlike makeup, most face paints are not hypoallergenic so don’t irritate your skin any further by slathering it on. (Not all makeup marked hypoallergenic are guaranteed to be irritant-free either). You might want to rock a ghastly white Casper or bloody Walking Dead face-do, but your skin will be glad if all you put on is an eye mask, Batman and Robin-style. If you insist on makeup, determine if your skin is going through a flare up or major sensitivity and adjust accordingly. Maybe you want to swap your white face paint with a (hypoallergenic!) foundation that’s three shades lighter. A thin line of blood-red lipstick from the corner of your mouth to your chin gives the blood effect for any terrifying zombie look.

3. Control Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can be a major trigger when it comes to eczema and this should be your golden rule at any party. Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day – it can get a little crazy at these parties and sometimes there’s a bit of peer pressure to drink, get drunk and go through a terrible hangover together (yep, even when you’re not in high school anymore… I don’t understand why either). If you’re eczema is bad, limit yourself to one or two drinks and keep alternating between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. My friends are used to me drinking very little, but if I don’t feel like explaining my trick is to go for ginger ale every time; in the glass with ice, it actually looks very similar to a Redbull + Vodka. Always remember to stay hydrated and drink at least 0.5 – 1 Litres of water before you go to bed.

4. Go Easy on the Chocolate

There are a number of studies that show sugar plays no role in atopic dermatitis but it’s still commonly believed to be a factor that affects eczema. I’m all about published scientific research but my personal experience contradicts these findings. Sugar, especially refined sugar, increases my skin inflammation. If you notice the same thing about your eczema, don’t munch on a whole bowl of trick-or-treat goodies at once!

5. Sleep in the Next Morning

Anytime your body is fatigued or stressed, your immune system is compromised. Sleep obviously plays a huge role in this. If you know you’ll be staying out late, be sure to sleep in and get in those much-needed hours of snooze. Reminding you to sleep seems like such a silly tip but it’s one that I overlook all the time (and so end up itching!)

What other tips do you have to share? I’d love to know! Happy Halloween!

I’m a big fan of DIY costumes!


2 responses to “5 Tips to Prevent an Eczema Flare Up During Halloween”

  1. Jennifer says :

    We painted our son’s cheeks with some Halloween make-up and he was red and dry for a few days afterwards – a minor flare-up, but still. Who knows what they put in that stuff.

    Hope you had an eczema free Halloween!

  2. veryyang says :

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve only put on face paint once. When I was five years old, I went to a carnival and they had a clown who painted all sorts of cute cats, tigers and shapes on kids’ faces. I just wanted a simple red heart on my cheek. I remember, I had just gotten out of the chair when my face started to itch and my mom immediately took me to the bathroom to wash off. I’ve never put on any face paint again!

    I still feel like I missed out on the fun sometimes, for example when kids used to draw silly things on their faces or put on water tattoos. But I think you can still have a lot of fun and be creative when you make your own costume, and a mask is just as fun (and much less of a fuss!)

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