Is Sun Good or Bad for Eczema?
- by Rachelle Davenport
Is Sun Good or Bad for Eczema?
As the sunny seasons approach, it’s time to prepare for lots of time enjoying the outdoors! As enjoyable as all our favourite spring and summer activities can be, the warmer months can also be stressful for families with children suffering from eczema. Heat can trigger eczema flare-ups, and there are many varying opinions on whether the sun is good or bad for eczema. But if there’s something we do know, it’s that it’s super important for those with eczema to keep their skin hydrated during the warmer seasons and find a protective sunscreen that doesn’t irritate their skin.
While there’s no simple answer about how the sun affects eczema, we’ve shared some helpful resources below to hopefully shed some light on the issue and help your family have a more comfortable summer. And remember, everyone should protect their skin from the sun during all seasons throughout the year!
Does Sunlight Exposure Help Eczema?
Unfortunately, there’s no ‘yes or no’ answer for this one, as it varies from person to person.
According to the National Eczema Society1, some people find that sun exposure helps improve their eczema symptoms (particularly if they have contact dermatitis or discoid eczema), but others find their symptoms get worse. They also note that sun exposure can directly cause a particular type of eczema called ‘photosensitive eczema’, although this is rare.
This study2 looked into how moving from a temperate climate to the sunny subtropics affects children’s eczema. It found that being in sunnier weather for four weeks improved symptoms significantly, which even carried through to the three months following their return.
Another study3 completed on adults who went on holiday concluded that sun exposure was beneficial to most eczema patients, but not all. It also noted that in 4 out of 10 patients, sun exposure did not appear to improve their symptoms and even aggravated their skin.
This article featured by the National Eczema Association4 also notes the potential benefit of UV-B exposure for stimulating Vitamin D production in the skin, which helps the skin barrier and acts as an antimicrobial defence against skin infections.
The Importance of Sun Protection
No matter the season, it’s vital to protect your little one’s skin from the sun – including if you choose to try sun exposure to help their eczema. The sun’s rays can harm the skin (leading to things like skin cancer and other skin damage), and sunburn can damage the skin barrier and worsen eczema. We recommend consulting with your health care provider or dermatologist for personalised advice on how much sun your little one needs so you can approach sun exposure safely while keeping them protected from any harmful effects.
It's essential to follow Sun Smart recommendations when enjoying the outdoors, including:
- Covering up with protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Use sunscreen (more below about which types to look for) and reapply as per the directions
- Wear a hat and sunnies
- Seek shade
- Don’t go out during the peak UV hours
Use your judgement (and advice from a health professional) when exposing your child’s skin to the sunshine – you want to help them soak up the benefits of the sun while still staying safe and cool!
Choosing a Sunscreen for Your Child
Choosing a hypoallergenic sunscreen is essential if your little one has sensitive skin or eczema, and you should always patch test before applying it on a larger area. A physical sunscreen with zinc oxide is often a good choice, as it creates a physical block to keep UV rays from penetrating the skin. Our Natural Sunscreen with SPF50 is formulated with zinc oxide to protect the skin while moisturising and has been clinically tested against sensitive skin.
There’s no clear answer about whether the sun is good or bad for eczema, as it varies from case to case. If you try sun exposure to see if it helps your little one’s eczema, be careful not to overdo it, and seek advice from their dermatologist or health practitioner about how much sun is appropriate before proceeding.
Are you spending more time outdoors this spring and summer? Check out our post, ‘Spring Remedies for Eczema’, where you’ll find many tips for managing your child’s eczema in the great outdoors.
This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from the Itchy Baby Co. team x.
Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.