Am I really allergic to my sunscreen or is it the sun???

Over past couple of decades we have seen increasing danger from our powerful sun and its UV rays to cause sunburns and skin cancer.That is why it is so very important to have maximum protection that includes selecting a sunscreen that is effective and safe.

"Suspicion of allergy to sun blocks are not uncommon concerns of patients", according to David E. Cohen MD, MPH Director of Allergic, Occupational, and Environmental Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. If you have a sunscreen reaction it can occur anywhere the lotion is applied.Rarely, you may even have an allergy to the sun itself!

So, who is most likely to be allergic to their sunscreen?

First, those exposed to sun on a regular basis, allergic persons (i.e eczema), people who work outdoors, as well as women as they are more likely exposed to cosmetics that contain sunscreen.Sunscreen allergy is estimated to be about 1% of all skin allergies. Some of the more common triggers may be from the fragrance and/or preservatives in a sunscreen lotion.

There are 2 types of sunscreens; one is a "chemical absorber" that acts as a sponge to block UV radiation from affecting skin. Whatever product you ultimately choose, a simple allergy patch test can identify if you are allergic or will react to the agent chosen."Patch testing would be helpful in distinguishing the specific item that may be causing the allergic reaction", according to Dr. Cohen, "when a chemical sun block allergy is suspected, physical sun blocks that contain titanium or zinc may be helpful".

Dr. Clifford W. Bassettis an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended to diagnose or treat any condition.

Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY.   Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and faculty at Cornell University Medical College. Follow him on Twitter.