Dry Desert Dermatitis

Last updated: June 2019

I’m writing this from Arizona while visiting family. I’m reminded of the extra steps of skincare required in a dry climate. There are some definite benefits to having a lot of sunshine, and the bright blue sky is totally mood lifting. I can see why many people who suffer from allergies would move here. Though the years, I’ve learned that other elements can create a dry desert dermatitis, and it requires extra diligence to take care of allergy-prone skin to prevent dry desert dermatitis.

Sunscreen and eczema

I always wear a sunscreen with high SPF on all the exposed parts of my skin. I’m noticing a lot of sunspots are still popping up in spite of that. Finding a sunscreen that doesn’t clog pores or create breakouts is tough. We use one for delicate facial skin, and another for arms and legs. Even the most gentle sunscreens still have some chemicals. These cause redness and irritation around the eyes or any other places that have breakouts.

Staying in the shade

We’ve learned that staying in the shade is key. While at ball games or near the pool, using an umbrella, head visor, hat, or scarf shields facial and other delicate skin. Long sleeved lightweight clothing helps, too. There are many clothing lines available that have built-in UV protection.

Sweat and eczema

When the body heats up, sweat pours! I choose to use a natural underarm deodorant and don’t use an antiperspirant.

Dry and salty skin

Recently, after a hike in the red rocks, my skin was covered with a sticky film. I realized it was salt! As my body used sweat to cool down, small amounts of sodium were deposited and by the end of the day, my skin was dry AND salty. The salt had dried my skin out even further. Within hours, there were visible scaly spots all over. I took a cool, quick shower and put coconut oil all over, and began drinking extra water to balance out the desert heat.

Finding the right moisturizer

I’m still trying to find the right lotion that will moisturize my skin. My granddaughter is visiting here soon and she’s going to need a rich emollient that doesn’t irritate, clog pores, or contain too many chemicals.

Inside and the great outdoors

Even though I don’t get full blown flares, my family DNA lends toward atopic dermatitis. All of my family members who live here, and who visit, know the drill. If we want to enjoy outdoor activities in the summer, we do it early in the morning or later in the evening. By avoiding moving around in the hottest part of the day, our skin stays protected from the suns hottest rays. We are able to enjoy walks, swimming, hiking, and other outdoor fun without getting flare-ups caused by sunburn or excessive heat. Indoor humidifiers help to balance the arid climate.

Pros and cons of living in a desert region

The benefits of living in a desert region can mean fewer allergies and more vitamin D. Those who live in the desert know that managing atopic dermatitis requires diligence. Finding the right sunscreen, staying in the shade, rinsing off sweaty skin, and staying indoors during the heat of the day all help to contribute to healthier skin.

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