Summertime is synonymous with scorching sun, harmful UV rays and sun burns. Slathering a decent amount of SPF should become a sacred routine as we spend more time at the beach, park, and by the pool.
Every time you leave the house (and even when you’re indoors), wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will help to reduce the risk of melanoma by 50% and squamous cell carcinoma by roughly 40%. But what should you do if this beauty product that protects you from harmful UV rays causes your skin to become irritated and prone to allergies?
An itchy, uncomfortable rash or hives are the typical symptoms of a sunscreen allergy. Applying sunscreen by itself can cause an allergic contact dermatitis reaction, whereas applying sunscreen and staying outside in the sun can cause a photocontact dermatitis reaction.
When sunscreen’s ingredient causes a reaction on the skin, contact dermatitis occurs. According to dermatologists, this can appear whether you’re outdoors or not and is the most common style of sunscreen allergy. In this case, a rash might emerge 1 to 3 days after applying the sunscreen, but over time it may appear more quickly.
This happens when sunlight interacts with a product’s ingredient and sets off a reaction. Only the areas where sunscreen was exposed to the sun will experience symptoms. If you have photocontact dermatitis, a reaction will probably show up 1 to 3 days after wearing SPF in the sun.
It is difficult to confirm it on your own. A patch test with a dermatologist or allergist is required to check if you have sensitivity to a wide range of potential culprits, including specific ingredients — like fragrances and preservatives — as well as the sunscreens themselves. The dermat will basically apply a tiny amount of these allergens to your skin and cover them with a patch.
They apply the patches for a few days, remove them, and then wait for your skin to see if you have an allergic reaction. The entire process takes about a week. If you develop a reaction under the patch, it’s likely that you’re allergic to the ingredient your doctor applied.
If you develop a sunscreen allergy, wash your skin right away. To reduce inflammation, you can use over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone (in less severe cases, you can just leave it alone or apply a bland moisturiser). Sun exposure can aggravate an existing allergic reaction, so avoid the sun until your skin has recovered.
In very rare situations, applying sunscreen to your skin can cause an allergic reaction elsewhere on your body. If you have shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting, get urgent care in an ER-type facility (emergency room). The same is true if you have a fever, chills, or other indicators of infection, which can occur if you’ve scratched the affected area excessively and broken skin.
Nevertheless, you need to be wearing SPF every damn day!
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