Finding the right sunscreen for your child can really make or break your summer. Spending the day (and night!) looking after an itchy scratchy child is not much fun, especially when you want to be out enjoying the nice weather. Unfortunately finding a good sunscreen for babies with eczema is a major challenge; even children with only mildly sensitive skin seem to react to many of the major brand sunscreens.
Here I am sharing the sunscreens which are frequently recommended by other parents. They’ve already done the legwork so you don’t have to!
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Tips for choosing and applying sunscreen when your child has eczema
Annoyingly there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to finding the right sunscreen. What works for one child may not work for another, and it can require a bit of trial and error. In general, you want to be looking for mineral-based sunscreens without any added fragrances. The NHS website suggests using products which are specially formulated for babies and young children. These are less likely to contain irritating additives.
As ever, I think that recommendations from other parents are the best place to start. Read on to see some of the most frequently recommended sunscreens for sensitive skinned babies and toddlers, along with some tried and tested application tips!
Always patch test
Patch test any new sunscreens on your child before using them all over. The National Eczema Society recommend patch testing on the same area for at least 5 days before going all in. Get prepared and do this before summer hits! And if you are going on a sunny holiday give yourself plenty of time in case you need to patch a few different sunscreens in advance.
It’s worth redoing the patch test each year. Children with eczema can develop new sensitivities – which keeps us on our toes!
Top tips for applying sunscreen to babies & toddlers with eczema
There are a few specific things to be aware of when applying sunscreen to children who have eczema:
- Apply sunscreen really gently. Dab it on and then smooth down in the direction of hair growth. This helps minimise any irritation.
- Make sure to leave a good gap between applying emollient and sunscreen; ideally at least half an hour. You want the emollient to have fully sunk in before sunscreen application, otherwise it can have a diluting effect. The same goes for any other topical steroids or creams.
- Plan ahead! The time it takes to manage eczema day-in day-out is significant; something those of us who have to fit in applying emollient, any steroid or other topical treatment and sunscreen before leaving the house know all too well! Leaving a gap between each of these to sink in can easily turn the mornings into a stressful rush. My only tip is to apply emollient as soon as possible after getting up. And if you are applying a once a day steroid or other topical cream, do this in the evening.
- Make sure all sand etc. is wiped off the skin before reapplying. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of getting sand mixed into sunscreen and it is not comfortable!
- The British Association of Dermatologists have some really useful general information about sun safety for children and babies.
Talk to your child’s nursery
- Many nurseries will reapply sunscreen during the day, so make sure you inform the nursery if your child can’t use their standard brand. Leave a labelled bottle of the type your child uses there. It’s worth regular reminders to staff about this, as my experience is that just one application of the wrong sunscreen can cause a flare up.
Parent recommended sunscreen for babies & toddlers with eczema
I am part of some really helpful support groups for eczema and allergies. Sunscreen reactions come up a lot, along with requests for the best products, especially for babies. There are some brands which are recommended time and time again. When I asked my Instagram followers for their favourite sunscreens for sensitive skinned children, many of the same brands came up. So, here are the top favourites of parents with eczema prone kids:
☀️ Sunsense kids* was recommended by my son’s allergy specialist (as well as by many other parents), and it is the brand we use most regularly. It comes as a cream, or a roll on*. The roll on option can be handy for older kids to apply themselves at school.
☀️ Organic children* by Green People UK is often recommended as being eczema friendly BUT it is quite thick so takes a while to sink in.
☀️ Ultrasun* is the brand we use if we have trouble getting hold of Sunsense. They have a range of family, kids and babies products.
☀️ La Roche-Posay anthelios kids range is another favourite, although it is at the more expensive end. They have creams specifically for babies and kids, as well as a handy “invisible sun cream mist”.
☀️ Altruist family sun spray*. This range was developed by a consultant dermatologist and is recommended frequently by parents. Compared to a lot of the options on this list, it is lower cost. I’m planning to try it when our current stash runs out!
Unfortunately good sunscreen can be pricey. Look out for sales and deals in spring. And when you’re patch testing, ask around to see if friends can decant a small amount for you, rather than buying a whole bottle. Also for patch testing, it’s worth seeing if you can pick up free samples from somewhere like Boots.
Managing eczema in the heat
Even if you’ve found a great sunscreen, the heat of summer can be a big eczema trigger. Here are a few tips to help keep your little one’s eczema under control on particularly hot days:
- Dress them in loose clothing in natural fibres, particularly at night.
- Use a hat with a wide brim to keep their head and neck shaded, and stay out of the sun whenever possible.
- Carry a hand held fan to help keep cool.
- Use a cosi care to break the itch-scratch cycle. We have one of their scratch attack roller balls, and keep it in the fridge so it also has a cooling effect.
- Keep bedroom curtains closed during the day in bedrooms to stop the room heating up.
- Did you know that reactions to pollen can also cause eczema flare ups? Those suffering with hay-fever symptoms may find these practical tips helpful.
Can eczema medications cause sun sensitivity?
Yes, some eczema medications can cause sun sensitivity, and in these cases you will need to be extra careful about protecting your child from the sun. For example, Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors (TCIs) can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Those using TCIs are advised to avoid excessive or strong sun exposure. With any eczema medication, always check the documentation and talk to a medical professional if you are unsure.
Over to you! Have you found a great sunscreen for babies and toddlers with eczema?
If so, comment below and let others know what has worked for you! And please do share this article if you have found it helpful x
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