A Cautionary Tale:
Two years ago, on a vacation to San Diego, I broke out in an incredibly itchy rash. As someone who's skin sometimes reacts weirdly to different lotions, I thought perhaps I used the hotel shampoo or body wash and was having some sort of allergic reaction (although honestly... I was already taking two allergy medications a day!). After several trips to the drug store, and several frantic calls to my family pharmacist, I took some Benedryl and it calmed down. I was back home anyway, and the reaction stopped.
As it wasn't the first time I had reacted to various lotions/beauty products, I went to have my allergies re-tested and the results came back that I wasn't allergic to any chemicals. So, I forgot about it. I made it through a whole summer without a reaction.
One year ago, on a vacation to Ft. Myers, Florida, I broke out in the exact same rash.... still very itchy all over my body. So bad that I actually broke the skin while scratching. By this time my mother (a nurse) was fairly concerned. I already had an appointment with a dermatologist and while there, I asked about my reaction. I thought I had done the right thing in already talking to the allergist, but thought since they are experts in skin issues, I might as well ask. I couldn't believe what she told me.
As it turns out - it was SUNSCREEN that was the culprit. My reaction: 'I am the palest person I have ever met! I can't live without sunscreen, and I use it all summer long. I was tested for chemical allergies and had none. How is it possible that I could be allergic to sunscreen?'
And that is when she explained about sunscreen allergies. As it turns out, you can have two different types of allergies to sunscreen. One is just a plain old reaction to the chemical you are allergic to. No matter where or when you use it, you will react to it. The other kind of allergy (the kind that I have) is a little more complicated. It is an allergy that is 'photosensitive', and the reaction only occurs when activated by the sun. This type of allergy normally shows up when you get closer to the equator (hence the reaction in San Diego and Flordia, but no reaction here at home).
Today, I read an article about protecting your family from some sunscreens that can contain harmful ingredients. You can see the article for yourself here. It also contains a link a website where you can research the sunscreen you are currently using and see how its active ingredients work.
As Summer begins, don't neglect your family's skin. Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen on hand. Also, make sure to keep in mind that when you travel on whatever vacation plans you have this summer, your family's sun screen needs may change. Keep your kids safe this summer, and have fun on your own adventures! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and remember that the library is closed on Sunday and Monday, May 28th and 29th.