Sunscreen chemicals that cause rashes, other irritations

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Dermatologists say it's not uncommon for many sunscreens chemicals to cause rashes and other irritations. (KABC)

Dermatologists say many sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause skin rashes and other irritations, and it's more common than you think.

In the sun, the skin on 20-year-old Amanda McKaig's face, neck and hands tends to react.

"It kind of looks like little zits but not really. It'll be all over the surface of my hand, just bumpy, itchy," she said.

McKaig gets heat rashes.

"It's not necessarily an allergy, it's more of the body's response to sweat," said Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan with South Bay Asthma and Allergy.

But allergists says what people think is a mere heat rash might actually be a reaction to sunscreen.

Because sunscreen has become so prevalent in our society, so have sunscreen allergies. There are chemicals and fragrances and preservatives that can cause allergic contact dermatitis

Ingredients to look out for include Benzophenones like Oxybenzone, Cinnamates, Octocrylene, certain preservatives like Quaternium 15 and the fragrance Balsam of Peru.

"A heat rash will usually resolve more quickly than a contact dermatitis, which can actually last for weeks," said Marks Cogan.

Once you've determined you're suffering from allergic contact dermatitis, you need to figure out which chemicals you're allergic to so u can avoid them. Allergists can perform a skin test to find out which of the 32 different chemicals is causing your skin to break out.

Marks Cogan says you're less likely to get a reaction if you use a sunscreen with a physical blocker, like one that contains zinc or titanium dioxide than you are if you use one with chemical sunscreens.

Doctors say people can suffer from heat rashes and sunscreen allergies together.

Related Topics:
healthsunscreenskin careTorrance
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