Dr Mark Tang, Consultant Dermatologist from the Skin Specialists & Laser Clinic shares useful tips for managing eczema while travelling.

The coming months are an exciting time for travel as many countries in the northern hemisphere experience drier and sunnier weather. In fact, Singaporeans have been busy booking their overseas holidays since the easing of travel restrictions earlier this year.

The prevalence of moderate to severe eczema or atopic dermatitis among Singaporean young adults is reported at 26%. Unfortunately, for these individuals, travelling and outdoor activities can trigger flare-ups, particularly in those with moderate to severe forms of the disease.

If flare-ups are not controlled, patients with moderate to severe eczema can experience extensive itching, pain, bleeding and weeping of skin lesions. These symptoms not only affect sleep but also participation in activities during travel.

We speak to Dr Mark Tang from the Skin Specialists & Laser Clinic about useful tips for travellers to manage moderate to severe eczema and new treatments.

Plan ahead to avoid flare-ups while travelling

The dry cabin environment in the aircraft can trigger flare-ups, causing  some travellers to feel stressed when planning for trips with long-haul flights. For this, Dr Tang suggests packing small travel-friendly tubes of skincare products into the hand luggage, as well as sufficient antihistamines or anti-itch medications.

“Don’t forget to pack eczema-friendly cleansers, moisturisers, insect repellent and sunblock as well,” he adds.

Upon check-in, to prevent or reduce the exposure to dust that may be present in hotel room fabrics, travellers can bring their own pillow covers or request to have the fabrics replaced.

When travelling to countries which are dry, hot and dusty, Dr Tang advises those who are eczema-prone to change and wash their clothes regularly to avoid irritating the skin with sweat. He explains, “Pack a few extra clothes to ensure you always have clean and sweat-free clothes to wear.”

“Instead of going for cheap, drugstore products, invest in those that are specifically formulated for eczema-prone skin, such as moisturisers that are free from fragrance and artificial colouring, and shampoos that do not contain harsh chemicals,” he adds.

Eczema patients should also protect the skin by putting on sunblock and a sunhat, spend less time under the sun, and take some time to cool down after being in the sun.

More targeted therapies can also be taken with skin-friendly practices and lifestyle modifications as recommended by your dermatologist.

Game-changing eczema drug delivers more targeted treatment

A new drug class, known as Janus Kinase inhibitors or JAK inhibitors are now available in Singapore, which can deliver faster-acting and more targeted treatment for those suffering from eczema.

Prescribed for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in adults, immunosuppressants like JAK inhibitors can help stop the itch-scratch cycle,  which allows the skin to heal and reduces the risk of skin infections. “One specific drug of this class is fast-acting and therefore effective in specifically targeting the inflammation,” he says.

The medication, which is available in oral form, can be a convenient solution for patients who are planning to travel to places with extreme weather conditions.

“Apart from being travel-friendly, effective and fast-acting, JAK inhibitors are also gentler on the stomach compared to traditional systemic immunosuppressants, which may upset the stomach and cause vomiting. Therefore, patients don’t need to take any other medication to ease the tummy before or after taking a JAK inhibitor,” adds Dr Tang.