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Skin Care and Diseases

Sunscreen safe for sun rash sensitivity

06/21/2005

Question:

Which brands of sunscreen besides zinc oxide, which my daughter wont wear, do not contain ingredients which exaserbate sun rash. She has gotten sun rash, like prickly heat several times. it seems to be worse with the more sunscreen she applies and not just amount or time of sun exposure. This last time was a bad bumpy itchy rash and she had used two different sunscreens several times thruought the day. She only gets the rash on her hands, arms and shoulders, even if there is sunburn on her back and face. I have a list of ingredients in sunscreens and soaps to avoid, and even foods that can exaserbate the sensitivity, but would appreciate any products you could reccomend I don`t think i can decipher all the products correctly myself. Thankyou, A Part Mermaides Mother.

Answer:

I interpreted your inquiry to suggest that the vehicle and/or the chemicals in sunscreen are producing a contact dermatitis.  That certainly can be the case and there are some sunscreens that are absorbers that may actually induce heat in the skin. 

It would be important for your dermatologist to skin test your daughter to a screening panel containing most of the common preservatives as well as active ingredients in many sunscreens.  Then one can select a sunscreen that would not produce the allergic contact dermatitis.

Since every sunscreen has a preservative that can be a real problem by simply going to trying a different product every few days.

In my own practice I have had the least problems with the sunscreen Elidil and in cases where the sun reflective or absorbative material is the cause of the problem, I use Celex-C and Celex C with E.

Celex products are sold only directly to dermatologists who then pass the product on to their patients.  Currently I do not handle this in my practice.  You might wish to contact that pharmaceutical company for a list of dermatologists that handle the product.

The most important issue here is to determine precisely what is causing your daughter's eruption and then we can objectively and carefully select products that would be helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati