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Sun cream for eczema prone skin

Woman applying eczema-friendly sunscreen to her arm
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Eczema is a condition that causes itchy, dry, and cracked patches to develop on the skin. It’s an issue often seen in babies and young children, and something that can clear away with age – although it’s seen in adults too.

The most common type of eczema is atopic, which means it’s an allergic condition related to the immune system. In people with eczema, exposure to certain allergens can trigger a flare-up of symptoms.

Eczema can also be worsened by other triggers, including heat and skincare products. In combination, these factors mean that people with eczema often have a hard time during the summer months.

How can I find the right sun cream for my eczema?

If you have eczema, you might find that getting a good sun lotion is a process of trial and error. Having dry, sensitive, and easily irritated skin means that you might have a reaction to lots of widely available sun creams.

One thing to know is that many people with eczema find mineral-based reflectors easier on their skin than chemical absorbers, the alternative type of sun lotion. If you want to try mineral-based reflectors, look for the ingredient titanium dioxide.

When trying different sun lotions it’s also helpful to do the following:

  • Read the ingredients list to check if the product contains any allergens or irritants that might bother your skin
  • Put a small amount on your forearm to see if it causes a reaction – do this once a day for five days in a row
  • Patch test a sun cream you’ve used before if you haven’t used it in a while, or if they’ve changed the formula
  • Try sprays, sticks, and lotions to find the method of application that suits your skin best

If you really struggle to find a sun lotion that doesn’t irritate your skin, it’s a good idea to invest in some protective summer clothing with built-in SPF. Just bear in mind that you’ll still need to apply sunscreen to exposed areas of skin.

The best sun creams for eczema

As we’ve seen, sun lotions known as mineral-based reflectors may be more suited to eczema-prone skin, so this can be a helpful thing to look for on the product label. One mineral-based range to check out is La Roche-Posay Anthelios. Aside from that, your best bet will be with sun creams that are labelled as suitable for sensitive skin

Sun creams for babies with eczema

Baby skin is really sensitive, and needs to be shielded from the sun as much as possible.

When your little one is younger than six months, they shouldn’t spend any time in strong, direct sunlight.

As they get older they can be out in the sun, but just make sure they’re wearing a sun hat and sun lotion, and that they’re in the shade during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm). Use a sensitive SPF of at least 30 on any areas of skin that aren’t covered by clothing.

There are plenty of sensitive sun lotions suited to babies with eczema, including SolProtect kids sun spray.

More sun care tips for people with eczema

The National Eczema Society has some great and easy to follow sun care tips for people who have eczema, including the following:

  • Apply your emollient 30 minutes before your sun cream – this will prevent dilution of the product and build-up on the skin
  • Buy a new bottle of your favourite sun cream every year and store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight
  • Apply your sun lotion like you would emollient, with smooth, downward strokes – this will help avoid skin irritation

Is sunlight good for eczema?

It can be! You might find that spending time outdoors in the summer helps with your symptoms and reduces flare-ups. Alternatively, you might find that your eczema actually gets worse in the sun. Remember that excessive heat and sweating can be a trigger, so even if your skin likes the sun it may still get irritated in hot weather.

Another really important thing to remember is that too much sun exposure can be really bad for your skin. If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, make sure you practise proper sun safety:

  • Between 11am and 3pm when the sun is strongest, try to stay in the shade and avoid direct sunlight
  • Cover up with clothing and a hat
  • Apply sun lotion to any exposed areas of skin
  • Reapply your sun lotion regularly, especially if you’re going into the water

For more tips read our staying safe in the sun blog or  this sun safety guide from the NHS.