In 2008 Natural Health News reported on sunscreen as unsafe and ineffective. Earlier than this, along with an expert on the subject, we tackled mis-information being promoted by Dr Oz's "Real Age". Over the years we have continued to cover this story and the associated problems caused by lack of exposure to the sun, sans sunscreen.
Now a new issue seems to be having an impact on you as you use these products.
There are options, and those natural approaches are covered in related stories here at Natural Health News.
Are You Allergic to Sunscreen?
By Krisha McCoy, MS, Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD
As the weather heats up and you spend more time outdoors, it’s essential to slap on sunscreen – and it could even save your life. A recent study from Australia – which has some of the hightest rates of skin cancer in the world – found that applying sunscreen daily reduced the risk of melanoma, the most deadly kind of skin cancer, by an amazing 50 percent.
But for some people, applying certain types of sunscreen can actually cause a skin allergy. Sunscreen allergies are fairly uncommon, however, so how can you be sure that your skin irritation is due to sunscreen and not something else?
Detecting a Sunscreen Allergy
Sunscreens work because they contain chemicals that absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation, and keep them from penetrating your skin. Some of these chemicals, including oxybenzone, 4-isopropyl-dibenzoylmethane, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), esters, avobenzone, and cinnamates, have been known to cause an allergic reaction in certain people.
According to Anna Feldweg, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in allergy and immunology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, there are two ways a sunscreen allergy generally appears: as a contact allergy or contact photoallergy.
With contact allergies, Dr. Feldweg explains, "you get a rash where the product is applied." But, in contact photoallergy, the reaction is due to an interaction between sunscreen chemicals and sunlight, "so you get the rash where the sunscreen was applied but only once the skin has been exposed to the sun," she notes. These two conditions may be hard to tell apart, although the difference is important in determining how to test for a sunscreen allergy.
A sunscreen allergy may appear when you first start using sunscreen, or it can develop after years of sunscreen use. You might experience an allergic reaction immediately, or up to several days after you apply the sunscreen. Some signs include:
- Red skin
- Blisters that are filled with fluid
These symptoms will appear in the areas where you applied the sunscreen to your body, and, in the case of a photoallergy, where your skin was also exposed to sunlight.
Dealing With a Sunscreen Allergy
If you suspect a sunscreen allergy, you should see a dermatologist or an allergist, who can diagnose and treat your condition. Your doctor can perform a patch test to confirm whether you are allergic to specific chemicals that are present in sunscreen. For a contact allergy, the patch test probably will be done without ultraviolet light first; a photoallergy patch test will be performed in combination with exposure to ultraviolet light. Patch testing can help your doctor diagnose exactly which chemicals you are allergic to, so you can avoid those chemicals.
For people with a sunscreen allergy, there are alternatives to traditional sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. Sun protection is an important part of protecting the health of your skin, so if you are allergic to a chemical in sunscreen, your doctor can help you find a sunscreen that doesn't contain that chemical. Sunscreens known as physical sunscreens contain powdered versions of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which reflect light, keeping it from penetrating your skin. Physical sunscreens are not known to cause allergic reactions.
An allergy to sunscreens does not have to keep you from having fun in the sun. Talk with your doctor to find out which sunscreens can work for you.
Source, Last Updated: 05/04/2011
From Natural Health News -
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Natural Health News: Frequently Copied, Never Duplicated!
GILSUM, N.H.–Just as many consumers are venturing outside for some summertime fun, Katie Schwerin, co-founder of the W.S. Badger Co., offered several tips to choosing a safe sunscreen in a recent statement.