When your child has eczema, it can be difficult to find skin care products that won't exacerbate his condition. Sunscreen can be particularly worrisome since most products are greasy and thick. While a bit of sunshine is actually beneficial for eczema, too much can cause a sunburn, which is uncomfortable and increases the risk of skin cancer down the road. Finding sunscreen that keeps his skin healthy and safe is worth the trouble.
In general, sunscreens formulated for specific use on facial skin are gentler than traditional types meant for all-over use. Spread face sunscreens on any exposed skin on your child's body, rather than confining it to her face. This way she's protected from the sun without risk of an eczema flare-up. Mark Boguniewicz, M.D., Professor of Allergy-Immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center recommends Vanicream sunscreen, which he suggests for patients with eczema. You might have to try a couple of options before you find one that works your child.
Pediatric dermatologist Patricia Treadwell encourages parents to choose sunscreens without chemicals. Look for those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, ingredients that block the sun's rays, but that don't get absorbed into the skin to the same degree as other ingredients. Avoid options that contain a long list of chemical additives, which can exacerbate eczema. Stick to products that claim to be "sunblock" rather than "sunscreen," which are less likely to contain a bunch of chemicals that can irritate your child's skin.
The National Eczema Association doesn't accept products with fragrances into its Seal of Acceptance program. This is because the ingredients used to scent sunscreen sometimes makes eczema worse. Look for a product that contains the seal, or simply choose one that is fragrance-free. Avoid sunscreen or sunblock that contains any type of perfume, masking fragrance or herb extracts. This information is listed in the ingredients on the label. If you're unsure about a specific ingredient, call the manufacturer for more information, or choose a different type of sunscreen for your child.
Some kids have contact eczema, which means certain ingredients or types of material can cause a flare-up. Kids Health recommends using only hypoallergenic sunscreen on your child's skin. These products are formulated for sensitive skin and are less likely to contain ingredients that can exacerbate eczema. They are also less prone to dry out your child's skin. Dry skin can make eczema worse so keep your child's skin moisturized.