Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunscreen Allergy

I just saw a mom who asked me a good question concerning her 5 year-old daughter. Could she be allergic to the sunscreen? It turns out that the daycare started putting sunscreen on the kids' faces and arms for the past month for recess outside. Once they come in, they wash those areas with a scented wet wipe.Her daughter has developed a fine bumpy red rash on her cheeks and arms during the past 2-3 weeks.

The Allergy Dude's answer: affirmative!  There are many possible causes, by category, the preservatives, fragrances, and actual ultraviolet-blocking agents.  A search for information netted many anecdotal sites and stories.  The Auckland Allergy Clinic, Baker Allergy Clinic, and Medscape (page 7) (page 8) provided the best information, so I won't reinvent the wheel by repeating their words. If you are very interested in this topic, you may consider reading after downloading the "Clinical Guide to Sunscreens and Photoprotection."  [Disclaimer: I have not read this book.]

Back to my patient, I advised mom to read this article for education, then carefully apply a different sunscreen (physical-type) that does not contain any fragrances, preservatives, or PABA.  Once recess is over, wash the sunscreen off with water and an unscented tissue.  I certainly applaud the daycare's efforts to protect their young wards' health.  Sometimes, you just can't win.  So be as careful as you can.

The Allergy Dude's final words: please protect your skin from damage from ultraviolet light (and say no to tanning salons).

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