Can a child with eczema attend gym class and play sports?
Heat and sweat are common eczema triggers. With a few precautions, most kids who have eczema can attend gym class and play sports.
If heat, sweat, or clothing triggers your child’s eczema, taking a few precautions can help your child participate in physical education classes and even play sports.
To prevent a flare-up, dermatologists recommend the following:
Dress for success: Your child should wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.
Some kids need to wear a uniform to attend gym class or to play on a sports team. If the uniform is made of polyester or another rough-feeling fabric that can irritate the skin, here are a few things you can do to reduce flare-ups:
Get a loose-fitting uniform.
Cover seams, which can irritate the child’s skin, with silk.
Wash all new clothes and uniforms before your child wears them.
Taking a few precautions can help your child participate in physical education classes and even play sports.
Wash clothes to prevent flares: Whether wearing a uniform or cotton clothes, you can help prevent a flare-up by following these guidelines:
When washing your child’s clothes, use laundry detergent that is fragrance free and dye free.
If you use fabric softener, use one that is fragrance free.
Dry the clothes in a drier rather than on a clothesline. This leaves clothes feeling softer.
Before your child begins a new physical activity, it’s best to check with the child’s dermatologist.
Beat the heat: To prevent overheating, your child should:
Take a break or reduce the intensity when feeling warm.
Drink cool water often.
If possible, wear a wet T-shirt soaked in cool water.
Shower off sweat: Your child should shower after every PE class, practice, and game. This will remove sweat, a common eczema trigger. To prevent a flare-up from showering, your child should:
Take a brief shower in warm (not hot) water.
Use a gentle eczema friendly cleanser rather than soap or a body wash.
Gently pat the skin dry with a clean towel, which was washed at home.
Apply eczema friendly moisturizer to all the skin.
Eczema can be stubborn: If your child still has flare-ups while following these tips, be sure to ask your child’s dermatologist for help.
It’s also important to know that it may be necessary for your child to skip a few physical education classes, practices, or even games. It’s best to sit it out when your child has a:
Open sore or raw skin
At other times, kids who have eczema should exercise.
Related AAD resources
Abramovits W. “Atopic dermatitis.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Jul;53(Suppl 1):S86-93.
Sidbury R, Tom WL, et al. “Part 4: Guidelines of Care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Part 4: Prevention of disease flares and use of adjunctive therapies and approaches.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1218-33.