Helpful Information about a Sunscreen Allergy
Most people have never heard of a sunscreen allergy but for millions of people, this problem is very real. Of course, learning that an allergy of this type even exists usually takes time in that people do not use sunscreen every day and for some, it is seldom used. For instance, a person with fair skin probably spends little time in the sun. It would only be after applying sunscreen that a problem would be identified. In addition, depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, it could take using the product for weeks before symptoms would appear. For this, identifying an allergy would be more challenging.
For an allergy such as this, the problem is caused by one or more of the specific ingredients used in the formula. Because so many people have developed a problem with various brands of sunscreen, the market now boasts a number of hypo-allergic products. In addition, people can still block the sun’s harmful rays by using natural or organic ingredients or products. For the person who still uses traditional sun block but has suspicion of having allergic reaction, it is important to understand the ingredients and chemicals that usually cause the problem.
Typically, a sunscreen allergy is known as “Dermatitis”. While most people think of this as a skin condition that has to do with touching something such as poison ivy or being exposed to an irritant, it can also be from an allergic reaction. In the case of sunscreen, most contain chemical absorbers, which are formulated to absorb UV rays. Obviously, this makes the sun less damaging to the skin. Second, sunscreen contains physical blockers, which help to reflect the sun’s UV rays by using zinc oxide. If someone were allergic to the ingredients used in the chemical absorbers and/or physical blockers, then symptoms would appear.
Females have issues with sunscreen allergy more than men do simply because they wear cosmetics made with sun blocker ingredients. Additionally, anyone who already has damaged skin from sun exposure or other chronic skin conditions connected to the sun, having an allergic reaction would be more common. Anyone working outside, using sunscreen on skin that is already damaged, or living with atopic dermatitis could be at risk for an allergic reaction.
Numerous chemicals can cause symptoms of a sunscreen allergy. Those considered the most common include:
- Para-Aminobenzoic Acid – Also referred to as PABA, this ingredient has been used in the making of sunscreen for a long time. In addition to being a problem for an allergic reaction, this ingredient also stains clothing. The problem is that chemicals associated with PABA also cause problems such as Padimate O and A. Therefore, if a product contains one of these ingredients but not PABA, manufacturers are allowed to use labeling that claims the product to be “hypo-allergic”. For this reason, people must learn ingredients that cause a sunscreen allergy and then avoid products containing them.
- Benzophenones – For more than five decades, this ingredient has been used in various brands of sun block. As with PABA, Benzophenones are known by other names to include Uvinal M40, Oxybenzone, Eusolex 4360, Diphenylketone, and Methanone.
- Cinnamates – Although not used as much as other ingredients, Cinnamates are also a cause of sunscreen allergy. Also called Parsol MCS or chemicals that end with “cinnamate”, they are linked to cinnamon oils, aldehyde, Balsam of Peru, and cinnamic acid.
- Salicylates – The very first sun blocker manufactured in the US was made with Benzyl salicylate but some people experience one or more allergy symptoms. The most common chemicals for this particular ingredient include Octyl salicylate, Homosalate, or others that end with “salicylate”.
- Octocrylene – Although one of the newer ingredients being used in sunscreen formulas, reports have begun to surface about allergic reactions for products that contain Octocrylene.
- Dibenzoylmethanes – For the past 13 years, this ingredient has been used to make sun blockers, especially associated with chemical absorbers. Other names for the chemical linked to this ingredient include Eusolex 8020 and Avobenzone.