For most people “let’s go to the beach” means everyone put their cozies on, grab some towels and let’s go!
But not for us. Allergies and anaphylaxis aside there is thought and strategic planning that goes into a “spontaneous” afternoon at the beach with friends.
“oh, what’s the big deal!” I can hear all the non-eczema parents sighing. “A dip in the ocean is what you need its great for healing eczema”. Well, that can be true. Seawater is packed with minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium and has been shown to help fight infection and disease. But have you ever heard the expression “like rubbing salt into an open wound?” Yep, as you guessed, not fun!
See when your child with eczema is in the middle of a flare up, “A nice dip in the ocean” burns, it stings, it makes kids and adults both cry, not just at the beach but all the way home. And if we are not properly prepared that fun spontaneous trip suddenly turns into tears of pain and awful afternoon kind of trip.
But fear not eczema friends! I am here to share:
Allerchic’s top tips for a fun arvo at the beach with eczema:
1. How long are you going for? This makes a huge difference as to what and how much I will take. If we are just going for a few hours, I won’t take the moisturizer as I know we will be heading straight home for a shower and cream application. But if we are going all day, of course, I will take these things.
2. I usually cover my daughter with a layer of thick emollient (like Epaderm) to protect her eczema skin. Then I try to cover her as much as possible with a long-sleeved rash shirt, wide-brimmed hat that comes right down over her forehead and board shorts. (This limits the amount of sunscreen I need to apply to her skin and stops the salt from getting to her eczema).
NOTE: It’s very important not to apply emollient to exposed areas of skin without also applying sunscreen.
3. The type of sunscreen you use is very important! If you have a brand that has been working well for your child and their eczema skin, awesome. Stick with it. But for us, it took years of trial, error & flare-ups before we found WOTNOT.An Australian owned & operated, petrochemical free zinc sunscreen, that actually improves my daughter’s eczema around this time each year. (You can read more about WOTNOT here).
4. A 2 or 3 Liter container of water. Yep, that’s right, no gym for me because I get amazing guns caring around a tone of fresh water! Not for hydration purposes but for skin rinsing.
Due to water restrictions, a lot of our local beaches have switched off the freshwater taps and showers. But even if they were in play, it either takes too long to get the screaming child up the beach to them, or I have to leave other children unattended while we rinse. So, I carry an old 3L juice container with me that I can fill up with fresh water and use to rinse her off at will.
5. We love a good yoga mat! I will have to write to you all and explain the 1000 and 1 reasons I love a good yoga mat for life with eczema and the beach is just one of them. We take a yoga mat for our eczema girl to sit and play on as the sand irritates her skin and it’s much easier to brush sand from a yoga mat than it is to constantly shake out a towel.
6. Eczema cream. Whatever your go-to moisturizer is (we are currently loving Epaderm cream) pack it if you are going for a day trip. Usually, when they stop to eat, I strip off the rash shirt and shorts (yes they are undercover by now) rinse off the salt spray and apply some moisturizer. Then its back to square one with emollient and sunscreen when they want to go back in.
7. One of the most important “Must Haves” is my small insulated bag with a few gel ice packs and an ice brick. These can then be easily applied to hot itchy arm creases or behind the knees to quickly cool the skin and remove the itch.
8. Next, on my take everywhere list is a Ziplock bag with wet face washers. I usually stash these in the cooler bag to keep them cool. Face washers that have been rinsed with cool water also make a quick itch fix for eczema eyes and faces.
9. When we get home it’s straight into the bath, with some water-soluble bath oil or shower then a thick layer of moisturizer or wet wraps to keep that eczema flare under control.
Needless to say, all the usual have a great day at the beach strategies apply for eczema families too:
• Try to park the car in the shade – Strapping a child into a scolding hot car seat is never a great idea. Don’t forget to open all the windows, doors and boot while you are getting everyone in the car to let the heat out before you crank up the air conditioning.
• Try to stay out of the direct sun in the heat of the day.
• Pop up a sun shelter or umbrella if you can’t find a tree to hide under.
• Put your mobile phone in a ziplock bag to protect from water exposure.
• Reapply sunscreen as advised by the manufacturer.
• Pack more snacks than you think, kids are always starving after swimming.
• Talk to your family about where to meet if they are lost (lifeguards etc)
• Swim between the red and yellow flags.
• Don’t forget to “Take three for the sea” and take your rubbish with you when you go.
• Have Fun & make memories!
It sounds like a lot, but a few well thought out items can really make the difference between a painful tear-filled afternoon and a fun afternoon at the beach with your eczema child and friends.
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