Eczema and Sun Protection - Should I Wear Sunscreen?
Should I protect my skin from the sun or will
sunscreen make my eczema worse?
With all of the evidence of skin cancer from sun exposure, eczema sufferers must find a way to protect their skin without exacerbating their eczema symptoms. Though skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, it’s quite preventable, and people with eczema do not have to be excluded from those preventative methods.
We can all start by limiting our sun exposure during peak times, usually 10 am to 4 pm. Avoid direct sun exposure, particularly for infants 6 months or younger. Also, don’t be fooled by overcast weather; UV rays work through clouds.
It’s also important to wear protective clothing. The most obvious way to protect yourself is to wear a hat with a wide brim, but you should also trade in tank tops and short shorts for comfortable, loose fitting clothing that will cover more surface area. You can seek out specifically sun protective clothing, or simply choose eczema-friendly clothing that you already have that provides more coverage.
Even after avoiding excessive sun exposure and protecting yourself with clothing, you should also apply sunscreen.
There Are Two Kinds of Sunscreen:
This type of sunscreen absorbs the damaging rays of the sun before it can reach your skin.
Physical Blocker Sunscreen
This type of sunscreen reflects the rays away. These include ingredients like minerals, zinc, and titanium. They sit on the surface of the skin and are not absorbed.
Dermatologists generally recommend physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide over chemical sunscreens. While it’s still possible to react, for people with eczema and sensitive skin, chemical sunscreens are generally more irritating. In addition to exacerbating your eczema, there is a concern that if you apply chemical sunscreen to broken skin, you might absorb some of the chemicals into your blood stream.
How to Choose the Best Sunscreen
It’s best to select a sunscreen from those that have been tested by The National Eczema Association. The National Eczema Association awards a Seal of Acceptance™ to sunscreens that meet specific 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
Click here to see the approved products:
When trying any kind of new product, start with a very small amount and test it on your wrist or the inner elbow first to make sure that you don’t react. Wait up to 2 days without washing the area to test for any signs of redness, itchiness, or general reaction.
Once you’ve tested the product and found that you are compatible, be sure to apply a generous quantity of sunscreen on all exposed skin at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Reapply if you’ve been in the water or after sweating.
It’s important to take sun protection seriously. Start by reducing your sun exposure. When you choose a sunscreen that has been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance™, test it first, and then apply it generously to exposed areas, you will best protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun while also taking the best possible care of your eczema prone skin.