With the summer here in full swing, many people find themselves at, or wanting to go to, a beach! Hot temperatures and refreshing ocean are a perfect combination, but this becomes a little less carefree when you have allergies. So here’s how to enjoy a beach day with food allergies.

 

Establish your “safe” zone

As with just about any other situation you will encounter with food allergies, going to the beach is no different. It always helps to plan (even scout the beach if you want to be super thorough). When you arrive, try to establish your safe space early on.

When our family goes to the beach, we tend to lay out our blankets, towels, umbrellas, etc. as soon as we get there. This gives us a well-defined area to spread out and sets up a perimeter around our safe zone.

When Shaun was younger, we used to bring our PlayPen with us to the beach. It was a perfect way to allow Shaun to be there with us and also have a wholly contained area to limit exposure for him.

 

Bring all food (plus backups)

Packing your food is almost always going to be the best option in general, but especially on a beach day. Granted, it does mean you have some extra stuff to carry, but the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you have access to safe food is invaluable.

On top of bringing all our food, we generally bring backups/multiple options for food. Nothing worse than having a food-meltdown ruin the day, or force you to have to leave early.

 

Be aware of your surroundings

This also should be a given with any outing, but on a beach day, emergency resources may be slightly less accessible than in some other scenarios, so extra precautions/awareness are usually helpful.

 

Check for:
  • Food/Snack stands. (especially at state beaches, there are usually places that sell food)
  • Ice Cream Truck(s). Pretty much a given, but this means melty/dripping dairy allergens.
  • What have other people brought? The people on the towels nearby could have peanuts, seeds, PB&J sandwiches, or any number of other possible allergens. Pay attention when they pull out their food so that you can walk around/avoid potential risks.

 

Care plan

For those that also have eczema, the beach can have other potential challenges. Between the heat, moisture, sand, and others, something is likely to trigger some increased eczema response or rashing. 

You want to do what is needed for your situation, but this does not mean you can’t go or have fun at the beach. Go through your typical care plan and make sure you have all your skin-care items with you.

Where is there fresh water nearby? Knowing this is important in case you need to wash off because of hives or eczema.

 

Although it’s not typical, packing a light cotton outfit (long sleeves and pants) will give you the option to clean your skin, apply any skin care treatment products and cover you skin with a soothing fabric to relive the flare up. This practice has saved us many times!

 

Medications

Having your medications close is always essential, but the heat and direct sunlight at the beach can be a problem, especially for Epinephrine. As we mentioned in a previous post, as well as on FARE’s website, Epinephrine has to remain within specific temperature limits to maintain its efficacy.

There are many ways to combat this issue, however. Chief among them being several insulated carrying bags that help maintain the temperature of the epinephrine or any other temperature-sensitive medications you might need to carry. We have used the ones made by Allermates. However, there is another one made by ParcMedic, which is also highly reviewed.

Additionally, there is a slightly different kind of bag made by Frio that people swear by. They have a unique technology that allows it to cool using evaporation, eliminating the need for ice packs or coolers to put your medications in. Most of these are advertised as insulin bags, but they are useful for Epinephrine auto-injectors as well, and many other allergy families and friends we know far prefer these to other carrying options for the beach or other hot, outdoor activities.

 

Sun protection

Sunscreen, swim shirts & hats are part of our beach routine. In general this is part of health skin care but it becomes even more critical with sensitive skin.

Sunscreen will get its own post in time but here are the two things to keep in mind. First, sunscreens may contain ingredients you are allergic to!! Always read the label! Secondly, if your skin is sensitive it might some trial and error before you find one that works well for your skin. We have had excellent luck with Blue Lizard.

 

Exit plan

As with any other outing, you want to go in with a plan to get out. This is not to say you want to leave early, but this also contributes to lowering everyone’s stress levels and allowing you to actually enjoy the day at the beach, rather than merely live through it.

 

 

 

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John is one half of the team here at The Art of Allergies. Your typical mild-mannered IT Manager, and Full-Time Allergy Dad. He also loves all things technology. Together with Linda, John enjoys helping new and first-time allergy parents navigate through it all.

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