The sun is really important in the creation of essential Vitamin D, which is essential to the health of our skin. However, the sun can also emit harmful UV rays and children with eczema are even more vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. The sun can also dry out the skin, making eczema more prone to flaring up and the inevitable scratching can open up old (or new!) wounds.
That’s why it is very important to put on sunscreen on your child – even if they have bad eczema!
It can be stressful picking a sunscreen because eczema can react to many chemicals and the reaction can cause flare-ups, sleepless nights and miserable days. Here are some tips on how to choose a sunscreen for your child with eczema:
- Some sunscreens are made with minerals, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that act as a physical sunblock. They reflect UV rays so that they aren’t able to penetrate the skin. Some sunscreens are made with organic chemicals, such as avobenzone or oxybenzone, that absorb UV radiation through their chemical bonds and release heat.
- The key difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens is that chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin whilst those containing minerals sit on the skin and act as a barrier. The mineral formulations often work better for eczema kids as the active ingredient aren’t absorbed into the skin so have less opportunity to irritate. In addition, the mineral formulation reflect the light rather than converting it into heat, so they are often much more comfortable for kids whose eczema is aggravated by heat.
- It’s best to choose a product that has been given the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. This seal gives you the assurance that the product does not contain known eczema triggers and meets the following criteria:
- Mineral based sunscreen ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) and Zinc Oxide (ZnO)
- Alcohol free
- SPF 30 or greater
- “Broad-spectrum” protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays
Sunscreen can also be a way to restore skin moisture at the same time as protecting your child from the sun. But remember that the sunscreen is not a moisturizer. Always remember to put on moisturizing, give it a minute to absorb and then put on the sunscreen. This will ensure your child’s skin is properly moisturized.
Finally, as with all things eczema, you should patch-test new sunscreens in a small area for 24 hours before using them on the whole body.