Cruise ship

Cruising with Atopic Dermatitis

A cruise is a wonderful way to have a pampered vacation, even with atopic dermatitis. But a little planning goes a long way.

Prepared with eczema-friendly products

A number of years ago, when my sister and I were about to leave our hotel to board the ship, we were informed boarding would be delayed while the ship was disinfected. Norovirus had reared it’s ugly head. But that disinfectant must have done its job; no one got sick on that cruise. But when I sat on the couch in our cabin, dressed in shorts, the back of my legs started to burn. Apparently I was having a reaction to the disinfectant used. A quick covering with a fresh sheet quickly looked after that.

My sister said the supplied soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion were very nice, but I didn’t dare try any of them.

Working around eczema food triggers and allergies

They are more than prepared for any allergy, or almost any issue that may arise. My first cruise after developing my sulphite sensitivity, I mentioned it to the waiter, who quickly brought me an allergy form to fill out. I learned then the best thing to do is call the cruise line ahead of time to let the chef know.

How the cruise worked with food intolerances

A tour of the kitchen showed me one area of the kitchen devoted exclusively to allergies or otherwise special diets. Each evening I’m given the menu for the next day. My choices are then made specifically for me without the offending ingredient if possible. If not, as I found out once, “Chef says you can’t have that, and would you like this instead?”

Organized dining based on food sensitivities

Rather than assigned seating, I usually choose to be seated with different people each day. I realized how organized and how careful they were, when one evening, at a table of six, we had one person who was low sodium, one gluten-free, one low carb, and me!

Laundry detergent triggering eczema

Another concern for those of us with sensitive or allergic skin is the laundry detergents. I found the sheets and towels were fine, but with my face already irritated by an eczema flare, the facecloth really exacerbated it. I now always bring my own facecloth in a dark colour so the stewards won’t scoop it up accidentally.

Packing eczema-friendly bug spray

Don’t forget insect repellent. And don’t forget to try it out at home ahead of time. Some of them can be extremely irritating. If you’re in an area with “dangerous” mosquitos, you don’t want to find out you’re having a flare caused by a much needed bug spray.

Vaccines and corticosteroids

If you need any travel vaccines, get them early and have your pharmacist check if anything you already take might interact. I once was taking the live typhoid vaccine (the live vaccine lasts 5 years as opposed to the other which only lasts 2) when I asked for an oral cortisone to try and stop an allergic eczema flare. Turns out, taking a corticosteroid with a live vaccine or even in the previous three months, could cause you to develop the disease or to not develop the immunity you need!

Plan ahead and have fun!

Once the planning is taken care of, choose those excursions, practice some new photographic techniques with your camera or phone, buy the sun hat and have fun. Cruises are no longer just for the old. Kayaking, scuba diving, zip lining, cycling in new locations, among others, all are for everyone. Don’t let atopic dermatitis hold you back!

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