Summer, Sunscreen, and... "Snakeskin"

When one thinks of the beach I bet a few common things come to mind. The ocean, swimming, sunscreen, and fun are all associated with the beach, right? A word that isn’t usually associated with the beach is eczema!! My son, Ryan, has an ongoing battle with eczema and his flare-ups. We wish eczema would pick a season and only come out then… like snow in Winter or rain in April. Eczema isn’t that kind. It is a year-round battle. Ryan hasn’t decided which season is the worst but this example focuses on Summer.

Quest for the "best" sunscreen

In addition to Ryan having eczema he also has very pale skin. His freckles and blue eyes can melt anyone’s heart. The Irish skin that he inherited is also prone to sunburns. This Summer has been the most difficult to date with finding a sunscreen that didn’t burn his eczema or as we call it “eczy”. The nickname “eczy” began when Ryan was 3 and it has stuck! In the past, we liked the spray aerosol sunscreens because they were fast, less messy, and effective. Ryan has had an ongoing patch of eczema on the back of his neck and the inner crease of his arms where they bend.

Our first day at the beach I wanted to be very generous with the sunscreen application so he didn’t burn. Little did I know the sunburn would have been mild compared to this pain. As soon as I applied the spray sunscreen he shrieked in a way I had never heard. I felt so awful. It burned the back of his neck and arms so badly. I knew I had to find a better one. His pediatrician recommended a Neutrogena brand. I tried that one but Ryan is also very picky. He doesn’t like anything that is too oily or greasy as he calls it. The best one that works for Ryan is an Aveeno brand sunscreen. It goes on smooth and doesn’t burn him at all.

Summer snakeskin

Ryan’s skin in the Summer sometimes resembles snakeskin. Even when he doesn’t have a flare up it is so dry. I thought he was eating crackers in his bed until I realized it was white flakes from his skin peeling. A little trick I have done is waiting until he goes to sleep until I put lotion on his legs. He is a really sound sleeper so this has worked … for now! He doesn’t like to have lotion on even though he realizes it makes him better.

In addition to sunburns and sunscreens, excessive sweat causes his eczema to itch and flare up. Who doesn’t sweat in the Summer, right? With this being said it is a constant battle to keep his skin hydrated, lathered with lotion, and protected from the sun. He plays baseball, football, and basketball so sweat is basically our 5th family member. It is inevitable. The places where he sweats most seem to have the most flare ups.

Sports and Summer don’t mix well with “Snakeskin.” It is unfortunate that he can’t just go outside and play without having to deal with his flare-ups. Unfortunately, we have become reactive rather than proactive with eczema. I wish we could find a way to get ahead!

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