Treat sun allergies in children in time – you need to pay attention to this

Children’s skin is particularly sensitive to light and can react irritated to too much UV radiation. You can find out here how you can recognize the symptoms, treat them and prevent sun allergies.

Basically, what is known in specialist circles as “polymorphic light dermatosis” (PLD) is not a real allergy at all. Rather, the skin overreacts when exposed to too much sunlight: redness, swelling, wheals, scales, spots or blisters on the affected parts of the body (mostly on the face and shoulders) are the result. Similar to a strong sunburn, only that the skin does not “burn” due to the radiation, but rather overreacts due to the special light sensitivity in the UVA range – the UV light spectrum that does not necessarily lead to sunburn. In addition, the sun allergy is usually triggered by external factors, such as a high-fat sun cream. Both skin reactions have in common that they can be very painful. It is all the more important to treat the symptoms quickly and effectively. How you can best proceed and avoid a sun allergy in the future is explained below.

Causes and symptoms

Since the sun allergy is an overreaction of the skin to too much exposure to light, UV radiation is the primary cause. The immune system reacts accordingly by triggering a kind of allergic reaction – and with it typical symptoms , which, however, can vary in strength and appearance in every child. Hence the term “polymorphic”, which translates as multiform. Here it is important to quickly treat the affected parts of the body such as the cleavage, shoulders, neck, arms and legs. Even if the sun allergy doesn’t show up until a few days later and your child’s skin shows any of the following symptoms:

  • it starts to itch and / or burn
  • it turns pink
  • it gets reddish spots
  • it forms vesicles
  • it swells

First and foremost, you need to relieve the itching, as children can quickly run the risk of scratching the affected areas – and causing minor skin injuries. This makes it easy for pathogens to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation. The best way to treat the symptoms is explained in the next paragraph.

Note: If the skin is reddened or swollen over a large area and your child also has a fever, you should consult a doctor immediately! He uses antiseptic ointments.

How to treat sun allergy in children

First and foremost, it is essential that your child avoid the sun for a few days, then the symptoms will usually subside on their own. To relieve the itching, you can cool the affected areas of the body with wet compresses (the cold constricts the blood vessels and the skin swells) or with some Bepanthengrease. If the skin is very irritated, you can also use a cortisone spray if necessary  (only from the age of six!) or use Fenistil to reduce skin irritation. However, apply both very sparingly and only thinly to your child’s skin.

If you want to do without medical aids entirely, you can rely on the following home remedies: chamomile or green tea, yogurt or quark (never flour, powder or oil). You can spread the milk products on a towel as thick as a finger and wrap it around the skin for at least 30 minutes. If the cooling effect subsides, you can renew the envelope if necessary. Also make sure that your child drinks enough. Sunburn literally dries out the skin and requires a lot of fluid.

Note: If small blisters form on the skin, do not open them under any circumstances, as this can lead to infection.

This is how you can prevent a sun allergy

The skin reacts irritated to too much sun

Basically, it is best not to expose your baby to the sun in the first year of life – and if so, then only with appropriate sun protection. You can look at the face with a wide-brimmed sun hat Protect your arms and legs with long, opaque clothing and your skin with sunscreen. It is best to use a high sun protection factor here(ideally 50) and apply cream to your child 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and after each contact with water so that they have enough time to take effect. A parasol with special UV protection also helps on the beach, providing shade and protecting the skin from the strong radiation. Here you can find a suitable model, for example.

If your child already has a sun allergy, the chances are very high that they will suffer from it every year. In order to permanently alleviate the symptoms, it makes sense to get your child used to the light step by step. This works best if you use the spring to expose your child’s skin to the sun – but only for a short period of time. Over time, you increase the amount of time you spend outdoors so that the skin can produce more melanin (dyes or pigments) to protect itself from the dangerous UV radiation. You can support this process by taking carotene and calcium. Discuss this with the pediatrician in advance.

Other preventive measures are:

  • If you spend your vacation in the mountains, on the beach or in the snow, the radiation exposure is significantly higher – even on cloudy days. So that your child does not get an allergic reaction, you should avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. or prepare the skin with appropriate protection. If your child suffers from so-called Mallorca acne, we recommend that you only use fat-free sunscreens.
  • If the sun allergy is extremely strong, you can subject your child to phototherapy. The skin is exposed to artificial UVA and UVB rays in order to get used to the sun’s rays. For this you will need several sessions to gradually increase the dose. However, this therapy should only be carried out by a dermatologist, as extensive skin burns are possible if used incorrectly!

Sunglasses with UV protection for children’s eyes

Sunglasses with UV protection for children's eyes

Not only is the skin particularly sensitive at a young age, but also the eyes. That is why proper UV protection is essential for sunglasses and everyday glasses. “The lens of the eye and cornea can filter a large part of the UV radiation. However, additional protection is important! That means: For children with ametropia, make sure to wear glasses with certified UV protection,” explains Dr. Michael Petrak, specialist in ophthalmology at the University Hospital Bonn. Because even if there are no proven diseases of the eye that are clearly triggered by UV radiation (as in skin cancer), Petrak still points out: “It cannot be ruled out that UV exposure in childhood has an impact on a person Has eye disease in old age,

For  this reason, the Zeiss brand has been offering UV Protect protection up to 400 nanometers in clear plastic glasses since 2018. Sunglasses for children should offer the same protection – you can recognize them by the correct marking, the UV 400 label. You can find suitable models for boys and girls at every ZEISS optician and, for example, here.

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