What Are the Signs of a Sun Cream Allergy?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Frequent use of sun cream may contribute to eczema.
Frequent use of sun cream may contribute to eczema.

A sun cream allergy can cause skin irritation when these creams are applied, especially in sensitive areas like the insides of the elbows. Numerous ingredients are used in sun creams and it may take several tries to find a product a patient doesn’t react to. Allergy consultants can provide assistance with narrowing down the ingredient causing the problem to help patients identify sun creams that are likely to be safe for use. It’s important to protect the skin from ultraviolet light to prevent future health problems, and simply avoiding sun creams is not recommended.

If the skin is sensitive to an ingredient in sun cream, the patient may notice tingling, stinging, itching, or numbness when it is first applied. Sometimes the skin flushes red with irritation shortly after application, while other patients may develop welts. Frequent use of sun cream may contribute to eczema, which can make the skin dry, flaky, and cracked. Over time, the sun cream allergy may create chronic skin irritation in the summer months.

Some patients experience reactions to light, rather than sun creams, although this is rare. For those unsure about which is the problem, it may help to apply sun cream indoors and allow it a chance to absorb for half an hour before going out. If the signs of a sun cream allergy occur before the patient leaves the house, this indicates that the problem doesn’t lie with the sun. It’s also important to be aware that some ingredients in sun creams break down in ultraviolet light; consequently, symptoms might emerge after sun exposure because the patient’s sun cream is breaking down.

Products with titanium and zinc oxide tend to be less prone to causing reactions. Some patients don’t like them because they can create a greasy, slick feeling on the skin. A doctor may have samples available to test, allowing a patient with a sun cream allergy to see how a preparation feels on the skin while checking for a bad reaction.

Allergy specialists can perform patch testing with purified ingredients to find out which one a patient reacts to. They may also consider the risk that the problem may lie with a reaction between an ingredient and ultraviolet light. Being aware of what causes a sun cream allergy can help patients select products that don’t contain that ingredient. It may also be advisable to select creams formulated for sensitive skin in order to reduce the risk of problems in the future.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

turquoise

I'm allergic to sun cream too, but I don't get a rash. I get terribly dry skin with white flakes.

fify

@burcinc-- If you don't normally react to sun creams, then it's definitely something in that particular product. It could definitely be the fragrance. Also, does it contain any essential oils?

I have an allergy to essential oils and I get itchy hives when I use a sun cream with oils.

burcinc

I'm allergic to something in my sun cream but I can't figure out what! I never had issues with my previous sun cream. Could it be the fragrance in it?

It's a shame that I'm reacting to this product because it cost a lot and I can't take it back. But I can't use it either. It makes my skin burn and I get little red welts. It's scary.

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    • Frequent use of sun cream may contribute to eczema.
      By: robert mobley
      Frequent use of sun cream may contribute to eczema.