Beware Your Sunscreen

My husband and I recently spent a couple of days staining our deck. Now that I’ve hit a certain age, I am no longer interested in hastening the onset of skin cancer so I grabbed the sunscreen spray, SPF 70, and liberally sprayed it on my arms and legs.

 

I did this faithfully both days we worked out in the sun.

 

The day after we finished the deck, however, I felt like I had a sunburn even though my skin looked perfectly normal. The burning sensation lasted one day and was replaced by itching that took a full week to completely disappear.

 

This was not the first time this happened to me. I used another spray-on sunscreen a few years ago and had the same reaction. I dismissed my itching as having sensitive skin and decided to try this brand that I thought would be less likely to cause a reaction.

 

The following week, while listening to a podcast called Travel Snacks, the host, Allison Sharpe, recounted items that she would not bring again on future trips.

 

Allison told how she brought a sunscreen bar with her on one of her travels and when she used it, her symptoms were pretty much the same as mine. Not thinking that her symptoms were sunscreen induced, she used it again when she got home and the results were the same, itching, itching, itching!

 

She went on to say that she did some research and found that people can develop an allergy to a chemical found in sunscreen called oxybenzone.

 

I immediately felt a sense of relief when Allison reported her findings (and a little stupid for not having done it myself:).

 

This wasn’t all in my head, it really WAS the sunscreen!

 

I decided to do some research myself.

 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (acaai.org), oxybenzone can cause a “photo-allergic reaction or photo contact dermatitis.”  Red, Itchy Bumps Wearing Sunscreen Outside? – acaai.org

 

What happens is the sunscreen plus the UVA and UVB rays of the sun can cause you to develop an allergic reaction. Some develop red swollen and itchy bumps but others, like Allison and me, have no visible symptoms, just itching.

 

I also learned that Hawaii and Key West have not only banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone but also those containing octinoxate. They believe that these chemicals are contributing to the bleaching of the coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean.  Key West Bans Sunscreen Containing Chemicals Believed To Harm Coral Reef- NY Times article

 

To all of you who thought you were doing the right thing by applying sunscreen and ended up losing your mind because of the itching, you are not alone and you are not crazy.

 

Be sure to look for an oxybenzone free sunscreen. It can be difficult so here’s an article that lists 9 products. 9 Oxybenzone Free Sunscreens- Health.com

 

And please, if you’ve been using this on your child and they have been complaining about burning and itching, CHECK THE SUNSCREEN INGREDIENTS. They are not exaggerating how much it itches!

 

This is a different post than I normally do but after learning about this, I felt compelled to get the word out but don’t take my word for it, do your own research. Let me know what you find.

 

Take good care, my friends, and have a safe, healthy, itch-free summer!

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