Pool, sport, playing: which activities are ok for my atopic-prone child?

Atopic-prone skin, also called atopic dermatitis, affects one child in five.1, but atopic doesn’t mean atypical. If the signs of this eczema are unpleasant (redness, itching sensations, dryness, etc.), they are not rare, nor contagious to other children, and not irreversible.

Written in partnership with Dr. Clarence De BELILOVSKY, dermatologist & member of the Mustela experts' circle.

If your child has atopic-prone skin, is he able to do every activity? In principle, yes, the idea being that he should be able to make the most of his childhood. However, there are some precautions to be taken in order to avoid contact with harmful factors for the skin, thus triggering the immune system (see our file on atopic-prone skin).


In the water

Does your child love the swimming pool or the sea? The chlorine in the swimming pool and the salt in the sea can be irritating factors. Don’t hesitate to apply his usual baby/child-specific emollient care over the whole body before he rushes into the water (see our file on the benefits of emollient care). If the bathing takes places outside, protect your child’s skin with a baby/child-specific and fragrance-free, very-high protection sun lotion, with a high SPF suitable for atopic-prone skin. Now he is ready to jump into the waves! 


From time to time, you can check to see if some redness appears. If you see some patches, once he has finished paddling in the water you just have to rinse your child’s skin abundantly with one of the freshwater showers often available close to or directly on the beach.


Once you are at home, reproduce the same ritual with his well-adapted Stelatopia Cleansing Cream, his shampoo and then his Emollient balm, this time used more intensively and in a more peaceful atmosphere. If some redness is still present, you can use the treatment prescribed by your physician (See How to care for atopic-prone skin). Your child is now completely clean and well-protected.


You keep wondering if all that time spent in the water is reasonable; in the case of flare-ups, the question may not even arise, since contact with iodine or chlorine will be painful for your child and he won’t want to go into the water. Otherwise, in periods of respite, swimming is a well-adapted activity, since it doesn’t make you sweat a lot. That’s good to know!


In the garden and elsewhere

What you have to take into account is the sweating induced by games and activities. The ideal solution is to choose calm activities that are also amusing or captivating, depending on his age, of course: marbles, bowling, bocce balls, blind-man’s bluff, hide-and-seek, treasure hunt, 1,2,3 sun, cinema, merry-go-round – there are endless ideas.


Which sports should you choose to avoid eczema flare-ups?

Basketball, football, volleyball, dancing, athletics: these are all activities that require a lot of energy and can make your child sweat or even suffer heatstroke. And don’t forget the intense outdoor games with his friends: races, cat-and-mouse, somersaults, and so on. In order for your child’s core temperature stable, you can:

- Prepare some rather loose cotton clothing1 for him.

- If possible, choose trousers and long-sleeved shirts. If he wants to roll in freshly-cut grass or the sand, for instance, these clothes can protect him from irritating factors. 

- In summer, try to have him organise his matches, games or other activities at the end of the day when it is not so hot. 

- Use a water atomizer from time to time, then absorb the water and sweat with paper tissues.
- Rinse him rapidly after his activities with a short shower, and protect him again with his emollient care.
- Apply his emollient before his activities as well. 


If flare-ups occur, it will better to stop these activities for a few days, until the red patches disappear. It can be an opportunity to vary his activities with parlour games, mime games, drawing, or the like.


1 Read What should be worn with an atopic-prone skin?


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