Itching to Get Away?
The ever-unpredictable British summer is now in full swing and while some of us are looking forward to sunnier days, we know that navigating the heat when living with eczema and other sensitive skin conditions is no mean feat.
All of us at Cotton Comfort either live with or have had eczema ourselves or have cared for young children and family members that do, so we know only too well that summer can be an overwhelming time. From navigating hay fever (check out our previous blog) to knowing how to best protect your skin from the sun’s rays, to keeping itchy kids calm and cool in the sticky summer heat, we’re sharing some of our own personal experience and expert advice to ease you through the summer season.
A bit of Vitamin D really does do us all the world of good, especially in the UK where it is so scarce. Not only does it boost our happy hormones (and we can all do with a bit of that) there is also promising evidence to suggest that it can lessen the itchy sore skin symptoms typical with eczema. However, despite its benefits we all know the sun can be extremely damaging especially for sensitive skin.
We spoke to holistic health practitioner Hannah Pearson to ask her top tips on protecting sensitive skin from the sun. Hannah is the daughter of our founder Dorothy and suffered from severe eczema as a child. It was seeking a source of itch and scratch free soft organic cotton clothing for Hannah that inspired Dorothy to create Cotton Comfort.
Hannah’s Top Tips:
The best sun protection is to cover up. Light, long sleeved tops and bottoms are ideal paired with a wide brimmed hat.
- Avoid midday sun - Plan your activities around early morning and late afternoon and avoid the midday sun between 11-3
- Stick to the shade - if out and about pack an umbrella to create a shady corner to relax under.
- Swim with a hat and top - If swimming, remember that water reflects the sun’s rays so wear a long-sleeved top and a peaked hat.
Keep cool - Heat exacerbates eczema so keeping cool is key. Here are a few simple ideas to manage this at home or out and about
- Keep a long sleeve top in a bag in the fridge or cool box to switch hot kids into during hot days and nights
- Take a damp thin towel with you when out and about and hang over car windows or pushchairs to cool air as it flows through it
- Dunk a spare top in the sea or wet with a tap and change into it when feeling hot and itchy
To Sea or not to Sea?
Generations of eczema sufferers will suggest that a dip in a mineral packed ocean will do the world of good for itchy scratchy skin. This is not just an old wives’ tale; salt water certainly has anti-bacterial properties and can prevent any secondary infections that can arise due to broken skin.
Hannah comments that “salt water can sting any broken skin, so it’s a good idea to give yourself and your kids plenty of time to acclimatise. As always with eczema a change in conditions is a stimulant. However, I have always found that the healing properties of the sea far outweigh the challenges.”
If you do make the splash, then these before and after tips from the National Eczema Society are worth bearing in mind so that you can reap the full rewards of the ‘Vitamin Sea’.
- Ideally have a quick shower first (and go to the loo!)
- Apply your usual emollient about half an hour before applying sunscreen – this will prevent the sunscreen becoming diluted by the emollient and ensure that the sunscreen keeps its reflective properties and protects your skin. Try not to overdo your emollient when outdoors as it may produce a ‘frying’ effect in the sun.
- As soon as possible after swimming, shower off then apply more of your usual emollient (leave-on cream) than usual.
- HYDRATE! Swimming is dehydrating so ensure you drink plenty of water both before and after your swim.
If you’re planning a trip to a swimming pool this summer, it’s worth remembering that chlorine can cause sensitive skin to dry out. Look for a seawater pool if possible – and if you’re lucky enough to live near the coast you should find one. Lido’s are having a renaissance and are wonderful places to swim with those near the coast often being seawater pools. (https://www.countryfile.com/go-outdoors/get-active/britains-seaside-lido-revival-history-of-the-lido-and-best-places-to-swim/)
Cover up for ultimate protection
Cool light organic cotton clothing is the best option for protecting itchy or broken skin from the sun, sand, and other environmental factors such as pollen and dust mites this summer.
Keeping skin covered and protected also alleviates the headache of choosing which SPF will suit your sensitive skin best. Navigating which SPF is appropriate for sensitive skin is a complex issue. We would recommend looking for a product which contains zinc or titanium dioxide and look for products which are as natural as possible.
For kids (up to height 150) try our organic cotton poplin day and sleep suits. Made in the UK these light breathable numbers provide a comforting layer of cotton protection against sand and other elements whilst keeping the hand's free means that children can take part in tactile play, essential during daytime for fine motor skill development.
Once you’re home post swim (keeping wet swimmers on is a big no-no for eczema prone skin) make sure you have a shower (if you haven’t already) and pop on something comfy and non-chafing to relax in – like our NEW collection of organic cotton Pjs in bold bright summery prints now available in mix and match colours for all the family.
Our organic cotton is never bleached, meaning it contains lignins which act as natural UV absorbers. What’s more, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that wearing bright colours is a great skin protectant as they absorb the UV rays rather than allowing them to penetrate your sensitive skin.
Whichever clothing option you go for, keep it light, bright, and breathable and pair with a wide brimmed hat when outside for ultimate chic and sun protection.
We hope these top tips help you feel as comfortable and confident in your skin as possible, ready to thrive in whatever unpredictable weather the British skies will throw at us and reap the benefits of what we hope will be a glorious summer season.