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Expert Q&A:
What are the dry, red patches all over my toddler's face?

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My 2-year-old has dry and sensitive skin. Any time she goes out in the sun she gets dry, red patches all over her face and it hurts to put anything on it. The condition usually clears up in a couple of days. What is it, and what can I put on her skin to prevent it? Could it be eczema? Can you recommend a sunscreen?


Without examining your daughter, it is not possible to diagnose her condition. Redness after sun exposure could mean many things, the most obvious of which is inadequate protection from the sun. There are also some conditions that can make a child extremely sensitive to the sun, including a fairly common one called polymorphous light eruption. Your daughter's GP can tell you more after examining her. As for sunscreens, the sun protection factor should be between 15 and 30. Since your daughter has sensitive skin, a sunblock, such as one containing titanium dioxide, is a good choice for decreasing the risk of skin irritation. Remember to reapply the sunscreen frequently (every one to three hours), especially if sweating or swimming. And don't forget the most basic principles of protection: protective clothing, hats, shade and avoidance of midday sun.

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