Not-so-fun in the sun: what is a sunscreen allergy?

sunscreen allergy

Not-so-fun in the sun: what is a sunscreen allergy?

It’s officially summer and with any luck, we’ll get some nice weather. We’ve already been quite blessed so far, but you can’t beat some sun for the perfect summer feeling. Chill in the garden, a cold drink in hand, and enjoy the rays.

It sounds perfect, but not if you have an allergy to sunscreen. The other option – turning a painful shade of red – isn’t ideal either. So how do you know if you have a sunscreen allergy and what can you do if you happen to have one?

What does a sunscreen allergy look like?

It’s important to know you aren’t necessarily allergic to sunscreen itself. It’ll be a specific ingredient in the product you’re reacting to. It’s similar to any other skincare product; there’s always a risk one or two ingredients might give you an allergic reaction. It’s rare, but it can happen. With sunscreen, it could be the chemicals or it might be the fragrance.

If you have a reaction, you’ll notice it on your skin. It might not be too dissimilar to a sunburn. Your skin will turn red, but the difference is it will be itchy and look more like a rash. Other symptoms might include hives, raised bumps, blisters, or even bleeding.

Diagnosing the allergy can be tricky due to how long it might take to see a reaction. For some people, it might happen instantly. For others, it might take a couple of days. And in some cases, it might not happen unless you go out into the sunlight.

How to treat it

If you notice you have a reaction to a certain product, never use it again. That much is obvious. At this point, you should book an appointment to see your doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis.

If you feel you have to use sunscreen in the meantime, find a different product. Look for something with different ingredients to the one that gave you a reaction. When you buy it, test it before applying it to your whole body. Dab a small amount onto a discrete part of your skin, such as your upper thigh or in your elbow. Wait a couple of days to see if you react. If not, then you should be safe to use it on your whole body.

We don’t recommend this self-diagnosis approach as it isn’t guaranteed. A GP can refer you to a dermatologist or allergy specialist if they need to. They will be much better equipped to get to the bottom of your allergic reaction.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you have an undiagnosed allergy, see a specialist about it today. It can transform your life and allow you to live free and breathe easy. Get in touch with our experts on 02031 433 449.

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