Unable to sleep, itchiness: UAE experts explain skin condition that worsens during summer

This 'chronic, immune-mediated disease' can significantly impact a person's quality of life, sleep, mood, and even psychological well-being


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 26 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 May 2024, 9:51 PM

Imagine being unable to sleep properly, constantly feeling the urge to scratch in public, and not being able to wear your preferred clothes, jewellery, or make-up.

People living with eczema face this reality, especially as summer approaches. Doctors are raising awareness about this skin condition, which affects many residents in UAE.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can worsen with the onset of hot weather. It is a common chronic skin condition that causes the skin to become dry, red, itchy, and bumpy.

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According to Weqaya UAE (a government portal for health and safety measures), eczema negatively impacts the lives of at least 24 per cent of adolescents and 11 per cent of the adult population in UAE.

This 'chronic, immune-mediated disease' can significantly impact a person's quality of life, sleep, mood, and even psychological well-being.

Dr Almoataz Soliman, specialist dermatologist at CosmeSurge, said: “Hot temperatures can aggravate eczema. The heat can stimulate an itchy, prickly feeling.”

Dr Almoataz Soliman
Dr Almoataz Soliman

Healthcare professionals highlighted that although eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the country, it is often overlooked and its impact is usually underestimated.

What causes eczema?

Dr Suresh Babu, specialist dermatologist at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai, noted: “Rising temperature and humidity will result in sweating which may eventually aggravate eczema.”

Dr Suresh Babu
Dr Suresh Babu

Healthcare professionals said that air conditioning can also contribute to skin dryness.

Dr Hala Abdalla Hasan Amer, specialist dermatology at Burjeel Royal Asharej, Al Ain, said: “Besides, people tend to spend more time in swimming pools, exposing their skin to various irritants like chlorine from pools, sand, and saltwater (in beaches), which can trigger eczema.”

Dr Hala Abdalla Hasan Amer
Dr Hala Abdalla Hasan Amer

She added that "sometimes perspiration, especially in humid, poorly aerated circumstances, can lead to a condition called miliaria (sweat rash), which is extremely pruritic (causing itching), but it is different from eczema.”

Types of eczema

Stressing on the different types of eczema, doctors said that the common signs of eczema to watch out for include redness, burning sensation, and extreme dryness on the skin.

Dr Badeh Nabil Zraik, specialist dermatologist, Medcare Sharjah, said, “Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type of eczema that is induced when infected surfaces are touched. Allergic contact dermatitis is the kind of eczema that can be induced by the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis like perfumes, and cleaning agents at home."

"The chemicals used in these products can evaporate and cause reactions on the skin, especially on the face, and neck. Atopic dermatitis is a kind of eczema that mostly occurs at the infancy age and tends to disappear with age. It’s the most common type of eczema in children,” he added.

Dr Badeh Nabil Zraik
Dr Badeh Nabil Zraik

Medics pointed out that in soaring temperature, people prefer to take showers often, with an increased usage of shower gel and soaps that can also cause skin to become dry.

“This dryness leads to itchiness in the skin and later develops into eczema,” Dr Zraik added.

Treating eczema

While there is no complete cure for eczema, doctors suggest that patients consider these options to help prevent and manage the symptoms.

Dr Soliman advised patients to do the following:

  • Avoid scratching the rash or skin
  • Relieve the itch by using a moisturiser or topical steroids
  • Keep your fingernails cut short
  • Lubricate or moisturise the skin two to three times a day
  • Avoid anything that worsens symptoms


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