Sunscreen Allergies

Sunscreen allergies can happen to anybody. While this is not a common occurrence it’s not as rare as people would think. They usually happen at the most inopportune times and reasons and they are painful and irritating.

Not to mention, finding a sunscreen that you can use, once you have had an allergic reaction is a difficult, almost impossible task.

Are You Allergic To Sunscreen?

How do you know if you're allergic to your sunscreen? The most common reaction to sunscreen is something called photo-contact dermatitis or contact eczema. Sounds incredibly gross, doesn’t it? It is that itchy blotchy, red rash that you get when you apply the sunscreen to sun exposed areas like the chest, face, backs of hands and forearms.

It can be caused by the fragrances, the ingredients that make up the lotion or even the ingredients that make the sunscreen a sunscreen. People with the highest levels of sunscreen allergies seem to be:

  • Women –because they use make-up with sunscreen
  • People with sun damaged skin
  • People who already have dermatitis
  • People who work outdoors

Sunscreen Allergy

We all know that many people are allergic to fragrance. This is nothing new. Some fragrances can clog up your sinuses in less time than it takes for you to smell them, but for some people applying them to their skin, will cause their eyes to swell shut and the skin to break out, as well. It isn’t the essential oils; it’s usually the chemicals that make up the artificial fragrances that are the culprit.

Combine the issues with fragrance and the preservatives with chemicals like para-aminobenozoic acid (PABA), which is one of the first discovered sunscreens (and if you are allergic to that you may be allergic to ingredients in hair dyes and sulfa medications too!), octocrylene and something called cinnamates and you have a recipe for disaster.

Sunscreen allergies can go one of two ways. You can start to have the reaction the moment you put the sunscreen on, or you can have the reaction when you go out into the sun. The second kind of reaction is commonly called a photo-allergic reaction. Either way, you are going to end up covered in an itchy, blotchy, bumpy rash.

Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

So what do you do when you have skin that is sensitive to sunscreen? You can try switching to a sunblock. Many of today’s sunblocks are now pretty well transparent, and not nearly as thick as they used to be.

Look for ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. While not as pretty as other sunscreens, they will get the job done and may irritate your skin far less than anything else than you have been using.

The editors of Wrinkle Free Skin Tips found a chemical free, hypoallergenic sun product made especially for babies or those with very sensitive allergic skin.

Other things you should do when in the sun is cover up. Find a great hat, one that covers your face with its shade, a shirt that has long sleeves and don’t forget the sunglasses. There is clothing that is made to protect you from the sun. Make sure that when you are at the beach you have at least an umbrella. Find a shade tree. Don’t go out when the sun is at its peak.

Another thing that you should do, if you have a sensitive skin allergy to sunscreen and you are trying a new sunscreen out, is to carry Benadryl, just in case things don’t work out. It will help to ease the discomfort of the rash and the itching until you get a chance to wash the sunscreen off.

Additional Reading

Safe Sunscreens - Click here to see a longer list of safe sunscreens.

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