Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor and/or contact companies to independently verify safety before trying new products if your child has severe eczema and/or food allergies. That said, the following tips have helped keep my little one’s skin under control during the summer! Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice, and all content is for information purposes only.
Summer time. That means lots of sun, fun, outdoor time, water play, sweat, and, if you or your child have eczema, probably some eczema flares too. No one wants to see their child uncomfortable. Especially when that discomfort could interrupt an otherwise fun time of year.
Below are some tips for helping your little one feel more comfortable this summer, based on what has worked well for our family, other families I’ve spoken with who are managing similar skin conditions and food allergies, and our pediatrician and allergies. Please remember, everyone’s skin is different. What works for my family might not work for yours. But hopefully, by following these tips, you and your little one will also have success managing skin sensitivities this summer (and beyond!).
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Hydrated skin is less likely to have eczema flare ups. But how you choose to hydrate is as important as doing so in the first place.
Make sure you start the day with hydration. We love VaniCream products as a base (we prefer the cream, as it is a bit less oily than the lotion, though either is fine), followed by Aquaphor or traditional Vaseline/petroleum jelly as a moisture barrier. During eczema flares, our pediatrician and allergist also have us use hydrocortisone 1% first (traditionally sold as Cortisone 10), but never use any medication without consulting your child’s doctor first. While many families also love Aveeno products, we have found their line to be very triggering for my child’s skin, and therefore, avoid their products.
Other key times to hydrate skin are after baths and before bed.
2.Pick the right sunscreen and protect against the sun
Sunscreen can be irritating to skin, and some may include allergens. Plus, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, the best sunscreens should be SPF 15 or higher and absolutely not be homemade (even some products marketed as all natural may be unsafe). Luckily, there are some options that fit these criteria while being mineral based and good for sensitive skin. We have found that Blue Lizard Baby to be the least irritating for my child’s skin, after being encouraged to try it by our pediatrician. They are another brand popular in my food allergy support groups. We are event happier that their baby version is SPF 50, and that Blue Lizard offers a number of sunscreen varieties. Also remember, sunscreen is not recommended by the AAP for infants younger than 6 months of age, and you should always apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure.
We also try to reduce the amount of sunscreen we need to apply. Wearing clothing that protects against UV rays is a great way to limit sun exposure without use of skincare products. Hats and light weight clothing are two of our favorite options. And rash guards paired with swimsuits are a great way to manage sun exposure for water play.
Click here to learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for sun protection.
3. Wash the day off (the right way)
Just because a sunscreen is less irritating doesn’t mean it won’t be irritating at all. Even Blue Lizard can trigger mild eczema flares on my child’s skin if we aren’t proactive. But what does being proactive mean in our family?
We make sure to wash the day off the right way. Bath time in the summer tends to be right after coming inside for the day (usually before dinner) to make sure we remove irritants as soon as we can.
It is also just as critical to choose less irritating products for the bath as it is to do so outside of the bath. After trying multiple kinds of soaps, body washes, and shampoos, my family settled on Dove Sensitive Skin body wash and Free and Clear Shampoo (which is manufactured by VaniCream). We have found scented products (or those marketing as all natural) trigger my little one’s eczema. Dove and Free and Clear are both the least irritating, and do a great job of washing off all the dirt, grime, sunscreen, etc. from the day!
After tubby time, we make sure to pat dry (rubbing with a towel is irritating) and then liberally apply VaniCream body cream, followed by Vaseline.
You’ve heard the saying consistency is key with parenting, right? The same is true with keeping your child’s skin clear. Following the steps above should make it less likely your child will have an eczema flare during a time that seems cut out to trigger one.
By using these four tips, my child skin has remained under control for multiple summers. These steps have made such a big difference for my child compared to previous years. I’m so grateful they are more comfortable thanks to small changes in how we manage skin care.
Do you have favorite products for sensitive skin?Please consider helping me provide better data for other families by participating in a survey regarding skin care preferences. Answers will be used in an upcoming revision of this article.