The sun’s not the culprit, the sunscreen is.

standard May 25, 2009 7 responses

On Tuesday when I blogged about Little L’s latest health drama I was at my wits end. I played it off all cool and collected, but inside I was struggling. I mean, it’s one thing to want to always protect your children, but when the sun is the thing hurting them, the challenge is more than a bit daunting.

Lucky for me I have an awesome older sister who, despite being completely swamped with a huge move and her own life, is one of my most faithful readers. She read my post and emailed me right away to remind me that my oldest niece, her oldest daughter, had suffered from a similar issue when she was little. Only it wasn’t the sun she was allergic to, it was the sunscreen.

That’s right, the sunscreen, which I had diligently been applying to every single nook and cranny of my poor baby’s body. My baby is allergic to sunscreen of all things.

In an effort to protect my baby from what I thought was hurting her I was in fact coating her carefully in the stuff that was doing the damage. Figuring that out was bittersweet to say the least. It was a huge relief to finally know what was wrong and what we could do to fix it, but it was horrible to know that I was the one inflicting such pain.

On my sister’s recommendation I invested a small fortune in Mustela products, specially formulated for extremely sensitive and irritated skin, and I started tracking down non-chemical sunscreens and sun protective clothing. After five days of daily baths with the magic soap and twice daily slathering of the miracle lotion, Little L is no longer covered in little red dots and her skin no longer feels scaly. Which is good, because ew. Even better she no longer screams when I put her in the tub, nor does she scratch her belly while plaintively moaning “ouchie.”

Tomorrow we’re going to be taking the non-chemical sunscreen for it’s first test drive, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m not feeling nauseous at the thought. If I could protect her from the sun without ever using sunscreen again I’d be much happier, but all that sun protective clothing is hot, and it’s just not always the most practical option. So tomorrow I’m going to pull out Little L’s new unbelievably expensive sunscreen and I’m going to close my eyes and apply it to her skin while uttering a million wishes that she doesn’t react to it, or the sun, or anything else she comes into contact with, so we can get on with the important tasks of summer, like playing in the pool, going for walks, or hanging at the beach.

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7 responses

  • I’m so glad that your sister found the cause. We started using the Mustela for our son because he has eczema and that’s been almost like magic. He has almost no eczema now and doesn’t try to peel off his skin constantly to get at the itching.

    Luckily, he has always had the sunscreens with less chemicals because we knew the others might irritate him, so we haven’t had the problem you did. I’m pretty sure he would have had an issue though.

    The one thing that does seem weird though is that the doctor didn’t even suggest that that or any other product like shampoo or soap or detergent might have been the cause. Realistically, those are all more likely to cause a reaction than the sun. Sun allergies are much more rare than chemical allergies.

    Good luck with her next day in the sun. I’m sure it will all go well and those products, although expensive, will be well worth it!

  • Your sister’s diagnosis does seem to make sense. I too had eczema on my hands, and sunscreen irritaed it. My dermatologist laughed at me when I suggested that sunscreen wasn’t helping (I have found a new derm doc!)

    Please keep us updated over the next few days.

  • Doctors are so aggravating aren’t they? They are supposed to have all the answers! I know how frustrating it can be to have your little one be uncomfortable and not know what to do about it. I hope she fares well with the new products and you can have some summer fun!

  • I think a sun screen allergy is SO much better than an allergy to the sun. Yes it’ll cost a fortune to buy her sunscreen, at least it’s something you don’t have to keep her in the shade for!! Good luck, hon! And definitely keep us posted!

  • That is fabulous news! I have extra sensitive skin too. I have eczema but only on my feet. The doctors are always recommending that I use Dove soap because it is one of the mildest soaps. Well guess what? I am HIGHLY allergic to it.

    So happy your sister figured it out! I am sure it is huge relief!

  • I’m crossing my fingers that Mustela does the trick! Meanwhile, I’m covered in hives and i think it may be the sunscreen for me too. Either taht or its the Tobagan vegetable Callalloo!

  • I’m so glad to hear that it’s a sunscreen allergy vs. a sun allergy!

    A had eczema her 1st year or two…we’ve found that the only soaps that worked were Cetaphil (bar or liquid) or plain old Ivory bar soap (no fragrances, etc.). Even the CA Baby shampoo/body wash would cause some irritation (now it’s ok). Plus the Cetaphil & Ivory are cheaper than Mustela or CA Baby. Also, instead of fancy lotions/creams our pedi recommended petroleum jelly, Aquaphor or oils right after baths. In the winter, only petroleum jelly would keep her skin from getting scaly…

    If you aren’t already, a ‘free’ laundry detergent helps loads w/ eczema, too. We use All Free (no fragrance or dye)… I accidentally used a fabric softener & a dryer sheet and all hell broke loose on A’s skin. Tide free is good too but sooo much more $$.

    I hope L’s been able to enjoy the sun this weekend!

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