While hot summer weather is lovely and a welcome change to the damp British weather, keeping an eczema baby comfortable and safe from the sun can be a real challenge. These are tricks that we use to keep our eczema baby healthy and happy in the heat.
- Stay in the shade – We try to avoid the need for sunscreen at all by staying out of the sun in the middle of the day and ‘shade dodging’ when we are out and about. With a bit of practice we’ve found that we can walk into town in the shade just by crossing the street and being a bit careful about the routes we use. We’ve also found a couple of shady play areas near us.
- Take the shade with you – Some places just don’t have any shade so we take the shade with us in the form of a sun tent or, when we need moving shade, UV blocking golf umbrella. The kids love using the umbrella as a den. If you do go down this route – a hooked handle looped around the changing bag makes a great anchoring point.
- Accessorise your pushchair – adding a UV blocking sunshade to you pushchair will keep you baby cool and protected from the sun and using sheepskin liner in the pushchair can really help keep your little one fresher – the open pile of the fleece allows air to circulate under the body so they don’t get as hot and sweaty (but do steer clear of this if your baby’s eczema is triggered by lanolin, which is derived from the natural oils found in wool). On really hot days, we have a couple of cold packs that we slide under the sheepskin to keep the kids cool on the ride into town. While it’s easy to drape a muslin or blanket over your pushchair to keep the sun off your little one, do be aware that this can reduce the air circulation and, as a result, increase the temperature inside the pushchair. Lighter fabrics, which are better for air circulation, will only offer minimal UV protection so it really is worth investing in a UV sunshade.
- Find a sun block that works for your eczema baby – Sunscreen contains all sorts of chemical nasties that can trigger reactions in sensitive skin. Max’s skin is sensitive to parbens which turn up in a good number of the most popular kid’s sun protection products. Other products just seem to make him itchy, especially around his knees and elbows and often without any visible rash. It’s worth trying a number of products until you find one that works for you. But this can get really expensive so our approach was to beg a squirt from each friend we found with a different brand of sun-block and then buy ones we hadn’t tried. We are currently using the Green People kid’s sun lotion, it’s light and not at all not greasy so doesn’t aggravate prickly heat. We’ve had no nasty reactions and, so far, no sun burn. Read our guide to understanding sunscreens for more information.
- Keep your car cool – we all know that parked cars can get unbearable hot in the summer weather and for an eczema baby being strapped into a hot car-seat in hot car can bring on some serious scratching. Keeping the car in the garage, parking in the shade or investing in windscreen sunshade can make a huge difference to car journeys with an eczema baby. If keeping the car itself cool just isn’t a option, try to cool it down as much as possible before you strap your little one in by opening the boot and doors to let the hot air blow through. Keeping the car-seat in the house can be a hassle but it will help to keep you baby cooler. ScratchSleeves can also help minimising scratching damage on hot car journeys.
- Pop on a hat – Protect your little ones face, neck and ears with a brimmed sunhat. While baseball caps look cute, they don’t protect ears and neck and our kids find the legionnaire style ones really hot. When it comes to keeping hats on, we’ve found that the kids are much more likely to wear their hats if we are wearing one too. And just in case one gets lost or forgotten, we keep spare hats in the changing bag.
- Cover up – Long sleeves and trousers are great way to protect delicate skin without using sun block. It’s worth knowing that darker fabrics block more harmful UV rays than light coloured ones. The easiest way to test how much protection a fabric offers is to hold it up to a light. The more light you can see through it, the more UV can get through too. Obviously there is a trade off between protecting against the sun and keeping cool, but loose and long cotton clothing works for our family. Long sleeved t-shirts can be tricky to get hold of this time of year – but it’s definitely worth the effort.
- Rinse off – we found that regular, cool baths were really important to keep our eczema baby’s skin clear of irritating sweat and left over sun-block. After really hot nights we would give him a quick bath in the morning to get rid of the sweat and emollient residues as well as his normal bath in the evening. And of course the paddling pool, or just bowl of water in the garden, is a great way to cool off during the day.
- Keep bedrooms cool – sleeping when you are hot can be really difficult and for an eczema baby, who already finds sleeping tough, the hot summer nights can result in a lack of sleep for the whole family. Drawing bedroom curtains during the heat of the day, opening the windows to let the evening breeze in before bedtime and investing in a fan to keep the air moving can make a huge difference. See our article on helping eczema babies sleep for more ideas.
And don’t forget that sunshine is good for you. It is our main source of vitamin D and about a quarter of UK children are thought to be vitamin D deficient. Around 15-20 minutes in the morning or evening sun without sun-protection is a very good thing.
These tricks work for our family. What works for yours?
Here at ScratchSleeves we don’t just share our experiences of bringing up an eczema child and favourite allergy friendly recipes, we also manufacturer and sell our unique stay-on scratch mitts and PJs for itchy babies, toddlers and children. We now stock sizes from 0-16 years in a range of colours. Visit www.ScratchSleeves.co.uk for more information.