Dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes itching, redness, and inflammation. It's caused by a variety of different factors.
How Sunlight and UV Radiation Affects Dermatitis
The rays released by the sun (UV Rays) have a series of effects on dermatitis often making it worse. However, there are also a few possible beneficial effects.
1. UV-B radiation can, under some circumstances, suppress immune responses related to dermatitis.
2. Narrowband of UV-B rays can help reduce inflammation by reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines (proteins that promote inflammation).
While not related directly to normal sun exposure, we thought this warranted a mention. Phototherapy makes use of filtered UV rays that can kill a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, which is a common cause of dermatitis flare-ups.
1. Exposure to UV A radiation from the sun can cause inflammation and aggravate dermatitis, leading to redness, itching, and increased sensitivity.
2. Dermatitis sufferers often have an increased risk of sunburn, due to the damage to their skin.
3. Interactions with Medication. Some medications often used by people with dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions, can cause an increased sensitivity to light. This can lead to a further increased risk of photosensitivity, and sunburn.
4. The sun tends to dry out the skin which is a common cause of dermatitis flare-ups.
5. Even light damage from UV radiation can cause the skin to become more susceptible to irritants and allergens.
Why Sunscreen is So Important for Dermatitis Sufferers
Due to the damage to the skin, dermatitis sufferers are generally considered to have a higher risk of skin cancer. Generally speaking, dermatitis sufferers require more protection for their skin, both to prevent long-term damage, premature aging (photoaging), and to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation caused by flare-ups.
But with so many different types of sunscreen available, each one with its a list of benefits and features, how do you know what your sunscreen for dermatitis should be?
What Factors are Important in Sunscreen for Dermatitis?
We've compiled a list of the most important factors in choosing sunscreen for dermatitis. Our list here is split into two sections. The essentials, which are basically must-haves for dermatitis. Then there are the recommendations, which we recommend but are not necessarily requirements. We explain why we recommend each point. Let's jump straight into it.
The Five Essentials
1. SPF 30 or Higher
The SPF value is important as it impacts just how much UV B radiation is blocked. SPF 15 blocks ~93% while SPF 30 blocks ~97%. However from here SPF 50 only blocks ~98%. Generally, dermatologists recommend SPF 30+.
2. Broad Spectrum
SPF only measures UV-B radiation. UV-A radiation is even more important, so make sure your sunscreen choice is labeled broad spectrum. This means it protects from UV-A as well.
Obviously one of the most important factors in sunscreen for dermatitis, is that it does not cause flare-ups. So choosing an extra sensitive, hypoallergenic sunscreen is essential.
Non-comedogenic creams are made specifically not to block the pores. Blocking pores can cause flare-ups, so when choosing a sunscreen for dermatitis sufferers, it's an essential factor.
5. Physical Blockers
Dermatologists generally recommend sunscreen for dermatitis and eczema sufferers that uses minerals as the active ingredients (mineral/physical sunscreen). Physical sunscreens use active ingredients that physically block/refract the UV rays instead of absorbing it and converting it to heat.
The Nine Recommendations
1. Water Resistant
Not only do water-resistant sunscreens stay on better, but often they provide a bit of a barrier to protect the skin against dust and potential irritants. This certainly is not essential, but it’s a nice plus.
Dermatitis can be exacerbated by the skin getting too dry. When choosing a sunscreen for dermatitis, try choosing one that moisturises the skin as well. You may find this really helps.
Emollients help soothe dry, itchy and irritated skin. Choosing a sunscreen with emollients can help you cope with your dermatitis.
Antioxidants help reduce inflammation by combating free radical damage. Free radical damage can come from lots of sources, even simple things like pollution in the air.
5. Naturally Based
Naturally-based sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with ingredients that are derived from plants and minerals. These ingredients are less likely to irritate the skin plus are also more environmentally friendly.
6. Rubs in Clear
The best sunscreen will always be the one you will use! People tend to dislike creams that leave a white cast, as such we recommend finding one that rubs in clear.
7. With a Good EWG Rating
The Environmental Working Group in the United States rates products based on their ingredients, regarding how safe they are for both people and the environment.
Choose a sunscreen that is biodegradable, and recyclable. That way you know you are caring not only for your body but also for the environment.
9. Reef Safe
Unfortunately, coral bleaching across the world has largely been shown to have been caused by some chemicals found in sunscreens.
Tips of Applying
Make sure that once you've chosen your sunscreen for dermatitis, you apply it correctly. Studies have shown that applying half the required amount of an SPF 50, only provides SPF 7 protection. Here are a few tips for applying correctly.
- Use at least one teaspoon per area covered, I.e. one arm.
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply every two hours.
- Apply to all exposed skin.
Following these tips should help you prevent dermatitis flare-ups.
General Sun Care Tips
Of course, sunscreen is not an all in all solution. On high UV index days, it's important you use more than one form of protection. Here are a few general sun care tips for anyone with dermatitis.
- Apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day, to protect from UV-A rays.
- Seek shade when possible. The sun's rays are usually strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Try to avoid it during these hours.
- Wear protective clothing like a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. These will offer an additional layer of protection from the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds use harmful UV rays to artificially damage the skin and thereby cause tanning. They significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.
It is incredibly important to keep your skin sun safe when you have a skin condition like dermatitis. By following a proper sun care routine and choosing a sunscreen suitable for people with dermatitis, you can make your life a lot easier and reduce flare-ups.
Soléo Organics offers a whole range of sunscreens ideal for people with dermatitis. Soléo follows all the essentials and recommendations listed above.
Order some today to feel the difference.