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Keeping sun-safe with eczema

Summer is on the way, and while it is important for everyone to protect their skin with sun cream, those of us with eczema may have to think a little more carefully about what we use and how we apply it. 

Seek the best sun protection

Good advice for everyone is to seek sun protection of at least SPF 15 (which blocks 93% of UV rays), and preferably SPF 30 (which blocks 96% of UV rays). There is no sun cream on the market that allows for 100% protection, so keep in mind that you should wear a hat, sunglasses and t-shirt or cover up as well. Seek shade during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm, but know that even in the shade you are still exposed to some of the sun's harmful rays.

Find the right sun cream

When it comes to eczema, dermatitis and sensitive skin, finding the right sun cream could well be a case of trial and error. What irritates you might not irritate a fellow sufferer and so no definitive product recommendation can be accurately made.

Applying the sun cream

You must also consider your method of application for sun protection products. If you are applying SPF to a child with eczema, you may find that it is easier to use a spray-on sunscreen, as these can enable you to cover skin more quickly and may reduce the need for extensive - and potentially painful - rubbing in. Some of these SPF sprays are coloured, which can make application more appealing for children and also lets you see what areas you have already covered.

For both adults and children, you will want to make sure that you leave a good amount of time (30 minutes for safety) between your morning application of emollient and your sun cream application. This is because you need to make sure that your emollient, which in all likelihood contains a high amount of oil, has fully soaked into your skin before you go out in the sun. If some residue is still on the surface of your skin, you risk a 'frying' effect, which will only exacerbate your eczema symptoms. Also, if mixed with an emollient, your sunscreen will be diluted and therefore less effective, so do make sure you leave time between applying the two products. Some people find it practical to apply a thinner coat of their usual emollient in the morning, and then a thicker coat at night.

Patch test your product

Finally, be sure to patch test any SPF products for a stretch of five days before you need to use them. This will allow time for any potential adverse reactions to occur, and will give you leeway to replace the products if you find that they do cause irritation. Even sun creams that you have used without issue in the past can cause irritation, as it is possible that both the formula of the product and your skin itself has changed over time.

 


References:

http://www.eczema.org - factsheet 'Eczema and the Sun' http://www.eczema.org/articles http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/Shade http://www.who.int/uv/faq/whatisuv/en/index3.html http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer

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