How to minimize Eczema flare-ups on the Gym, and at Work

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While morning exercise is great for many reasons, it presents unique challenges to people suffering from eczema. Flare-ups can be caused by getting too hot or sweaty. For post-workout energy, the breakfast you choose may cause more damage than good. And after a heavy workout that taxes your body, the stress of deadlines and other workplace pressures can be a trigger as well.Bottom line: If you like to jump-start your workday at the gym, you need a smart strategy that will keep eczema at bay.Enter Matt Knight, one of London’s most sought-after fitness experts. Inspired by a book by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Knight became serious about bodybuilding as a teenager (his training partner nicknamed him “Diesel”) and gained instant success as a personal trainer at a gym in his early 20s. However, the gym shut down. He also sustained a shoulder injury which prevented him from being able to exercise. Knight soon found himself suffering from severe eczema, which included foot flare-ups, making it hard to walk. “I used to stay awake at night scratching,” he recalls. “I had it so bad on the soles of my feet, they were cracked and bleeding, and I was on antibiotics.”Knight went from doctor to doctor but didn’t find much relief – until he figured out on his own which foods sparked his flare-ups. He changed his diet and the flare ups stopped. Meanwhile, Knight found ways to exercise without bringing on a bout of eczema, and that allowed him to revive his career, which greatly reduced his stress levels.Now in fantastic shape, he’s eager to help others who want to work out, go to work, and avoid skin issues. Keep cool and clean Keep Cool and CleanWhen Knight realized that constant patch tests didn’t solve the problem, he read up on his condition, noted what seemed to bring on flare-ups, and tried to eliminate his personal triggers. Becoming hot and sweaty is a big one for him, but it’s unavoidable if you’re exercising, as Knight does, to get results. So he came up with a post-workout solution: “What I do is to get as cool and clean as possible after a workout. A quick bath with cool water works well if you are suffering from heat-aggravated acne. The key is, don’t let it go on for too long.” The National Eczema Association recommends the “soak and seal” method:

  • You can shower in as little as 5-10 minutes using gentle soap-free cleaners.
  • Let your skin air dry by gently patting it.
  • Any topical cream for skin that you have been prescribed should be used.
  • After you get out of the bath, apply moisturizer to your entire body.
  • To allow the moisturizing cream to penetrate your skin, wait a while before you get dressed.
  • “You don’t want to wash away all your skin oils and leave your skin dry,” Knight says.2. Knight’s Breakfast Reboot “Make sure you are keeping inflammatory foods to an absolute minimum,” he says. Although there isn’t a clear link between eczema and food allergies, avoiding foods that spark an allergic reaction may reduce flare-ups, according to Cleveland Clinic. Peanuts, gluten and alcohol are all common allergies. Knight advises that you limit red meat, sugar, dairy, whole grain, flour, and salt in your daily diet. He also recommends eating more fish, vegetables, and less processed foods. “Also, be mindful of certain so-called health foods,” he adds. “That whey protein shake and all those eggs can be doing much more harm than good.” 3. Positive Thinking is a powerful tool to boost your attitude after you get out of the gym. On your way to work, instead of worrying about a potential flare-up, remind yourself that you’ve done your best to prevent one. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are capable of handling whatever comes your way. You can find ways to lower your stress levels at work. If you’re a manager, for example, you might learn to delegate.And never throw in the towel. “Whether it’s stress, environmental, or food related, keep hunting for the answer and don’t disregard any possibilities,” Knight says, adding, “There is always an answer. Don’t quit searching for it.”

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