Friday, July 19, 2013

Allergy to the Sun or Sunscreen Allergy

Everyone is talking about the importance of regular use of sunscreen (SPF 30-50) to protect your skin from the suns UVA and UVB rays.   Using regular sunscreen is a must to help prevent skin cancer and prevent early signs of aging. Lately, I've had several patient coming in complaining they've developed a serious rash in the spots they've applied sunscreen.  What do you do if you suspect or have sunscreen allergy?

Who's at Risk For Sunscreen Allergy?
  • In the general population 1% of people have contact dermatitis
  • About 1% of the population who  has contact dermatitis has sunscreen allergy
  • Persons with dry cracked skin (eczema)
  • Regular use of sunscreen
  • Female and,
  • being younger than 40
What are Signs/Symptoms of Sunscreen Allergy?
  • A itchy red rash at the sites sunscreen was applied
  • Typical spots are the face and neck, but it can be anywhere on your body.
What are Most Common Causes of Sunscreen Allergy?
  •  Benzophenone-3  ( a chemical that helps absorb UV rays from the sun)
  • DL-alpha-tocopherol, and
  • Fragrance mix
  • Other chemical absorbers ( they act like a mop for UV rays) can also be the source of an allergic reaction
    • PABA's,
    • Cinnamates :Octocrylene, Octyl methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), and Ethoxyethyl p-methoxycinnamate (cinoxate)
    • Salicylates: homomenthyl salicylate, ethylhexyl salicylate, and trolamine salicylate
    • Avobenzone, Ecamsule, Ensulizole, bemotrizinol, biscotrizole

What Should You Do if You Suspect You Have Sunscreen Allergy?
  • See your local allergist to get patch tested.
  • This will help determine which chemical is causing your rash
  • Or if a chemical on your skin is being activated by the sun (photodermatitis)

What are Some Safe Alternatives if You Have Sunscreen Allergy?
  • You can use physical blockers like titanium oxide and zinc oxide
  • These will protect your skin from  UVA and UVB rays.
Want more information or need an appointment for patch testing with Dr. Jennifer Collins?  Call the office and we'll be glad to help or check out our website www.gramercyallergy.com  or 212-679-3574