Sunscreen Helps “Shadow Jumper” Charlotte
Nivea Develops Cosmetic Product for a Girl Suffering from EPP
The research and development department of Beiersdorf has tailored a unique cosmetic sun protection product, specially made for a four-year-old German girl named Charlotte. Charlotte suffers from the rare light disease called EPP – erythropoietic protoporphyria. People affected by this disease are often nicknamed “Shadow Jumpers”, as they cannot be exposed to sunlight. For them, the blue UV rays from sunlight cause severe pain, so they consistently seek shade whenever they are outside.
Individually Tailored to Charlotte
The shadow jumping disease is caused by a rare genetic defect: When exposed to sunlight, a precursor of the red blood pigment, protoporphyrin, is deposited in the blood vessels. This ensures that energy from visible light is absorbed and triggers a chemical reaction – a burn in the vessels, which the affected patient perceives as severe pain and appears as burns on the skin.
A cosmetic sun protection product was created under the Nivea brand, which was tailored exclusively to Charlotte's needs. Research results on visible, high-energy light showed that special light-scattering pigments need to be added to the cosmetic sunscreen for Charlotte. This can prevent the light from penetrating the skin, allowing the girl to be exposed to sunlight for a short period of time, according to the company.
No Cure, But More Quality of Life
Even as a baby, Charlotte suffered and cried out when the sunlight touched her skin, which is why her parents did everything they could to find help. When they reached out to Nivea, a research project was launched for a cosmetic sunscreen to help Charlotte. This cosmetic sunscreen was especially developed for Charlotte and her individual skin needs, and thus is not part of the Nivea product portfolio or for sale. The product cannot cure EPP and Charlotte still needs to be careful when in the sun, but it does give her a little more freedom when she steps outside. In the summer of 2021, the product was ready to be used by Charlotte for the first time.