Sunscreen for Eczema: Everything You Need to Know
Living with a sensitive skin condition like eczema means that you’re probably struggling to find a non-aggravating sunscreen. It is common to see eczema-prone skin become more irritated from a sunscreen’s preservative, base, and chemical load. A 2019 study that regular broad spectrum sunscreen induced contact allergies in those with eczema.
Yet, not wearing sunscreen can be just as detrimental. Living with eczema or any other skin condition means that your epidermis is highly photosensitive – aka severely prone to UV ray damage.
So, how do you navigate between using sunscreen, soothing your eczema, and not pulling your hair figuring it all out? Well, keep reading.
Understanding your Eczema
The allergy and anaphylaxis organization reports that over 1 million Australians suffer from eczema, which impacts 1 in 3 children. In fact, the first eczema flare often occurs at a young age. From itchiness to dry and dehydrated patches of skin, this condition can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and even debilitating.
Eczema flares aren’t fully understood, as their cause varies from person to person. For children, it is common to see eczema appear as the result of genetics, an immune reaction, or environmental aggressors. For adults, you can also add stress to the list of potential triggers. There are several types of eczema – also known as atopic dermatitis – and understanding how it impacts your epidermis will help narrow down your skin’s needs when it comes to sunscreen.
With UVs, some might find that unprotected sun exposure actually helps with their eczema. This is primarily because the sun acts as natural phototherapy to the skin, which decrease the inflammatory response behind a flare. Vitamin D plays an important role in this process, as a study demonstrated when atopic dermatitis skin was exposed to UVs.
That being said, exposing your – or your baby’s – skin to the sun without protection is never a good idea. Risks of sunburn, sunstroke, or skin cancer are always high – especially in Australia – and there are plenty of safe sunscreen options that won’t trigger your eczema.
Finding the right sunscreen
Finding the right sunscreen will largely come down to reading a bottle’s ingredient list. First, you want to assess – and avoid – any sunscreen with fragrances. Many sun products contain fragrances which give them that tropical, coconut, summer smell. However, these components are allergens and can inflame your sensitive skin.
You also want to take a hard look at a sunscreen’s chemical load. Anything containing Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, or Octinoxate should be avoided, as these chemicals sink into the epidermis and increase the risks of free radicals. You can find out more about how chemicals in sunscreen impact your health and hormones here.
Alcohol components such as ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, and methanol should also be scratched, as they can sting and irritate the skin. Unfortunately, a lot of sunscreens on the market contain alcohol, along with fragrances and other chemicals.
To protect your eczema and sensitive skin from sun exposure, adopt a mineral sunscreen instead. Mineral sunscreens are commonly formulated with active zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are active ingredients deemed safe for sensitive skin conditions by the TGA – Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Sun & Earth SPF30 tinted zinc cream contain both zinc and titanium oxide, along with natural ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax. Through many studies, these ingredients have been shown to soothe skin inflammation, reduce free radicals, and help with the treatment of eczema.