Help, Sunscreen Makes Me Itchy! Besides being oily, now I am itchy! What happens now? Will I get skin cancer?
She said she was doing it just to “check if sunscreen makes me itchy is still a true statement. See the red welts? That is how mine looks. They are on my neck and face too! And they itch!”
“If I have developed an allergy to another sunscreen, what can I do to protect my skin?” She knows I have been doing a lot of research about protecting our skin from the sun.
My next-door neighbor was showing me the red welts on her neck. She said she had tried all kinds of sunscreen, and they did the same thing.
She said that it was just where the sunscreen was applied that she broke out and itched.
The area where she broke out had already been cleaned with cool water and mild soap to get the product off, but the rash of red welts was still there and itching. She was ready to apply some anti-itch cream she had.
As she had used sunscreen successfully in the past she knew that something had changed about her skin or the formula of the sunscreen was causing things to be different.
She even tried mineral formulas that are recommended for babies. There were several different formulas she had tried. She had been doing the usual, depending on covering her skin in the sun, and wearing UPF clothing. She was just curious to see if it have been long enough for the allergy to have gone away.
Most reactions to sunscreen are referred to as contact dermatitis.
(Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. If you don’t come in contact with the substance, there will be no issue. The rash isn’t contagious, but it can cause a good bit of discomfort) Check here for Mayo Clinic’s opinion.
Then what if the cause of the itchy rash is sunscreen? What can I use to protect my skin?
Covering your skin is the recommendation from Skin Cancer.Org. Too often we try to make something difficult that has a commonsense answer.
Covering your skin with sun blocking clothing will allow you to enjoy some sun as well as protect your skin. The trend to all the fun and active outdoor sports that people enjoy can have you in the direct sun which is what people who are allergic to the sun don’t need.
You can enjoy being out a reasonable about of time in the heat and direct sun with a good sun hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes and head, nose, neck ears, and face.
Then add a sun blocking shirt that is a loose fit and with long sleeves. If the fabric is knit and wicks the moisture from your skin, you will stay more comfortable.
When you are comparing your questions about being hot in the sun when wearing sun blocking clothing, look around. Are the guys playing golf with you not sweating a little too? Do they have their whole head protected or just what their cap bill protects?
Do you not think that the sunburn they are getting is going to keep them uncomfortable longer than your protected skin will? You don’t feel self-conscious brushing your teeth to protect them, so why let the feeling you are doing something different affect how you protect your skin?
Why Protect My Skin From the Sun When Allergic To Sunscreen
Question: Is it really easy to cover my skin with clothing? Won’t that be hot?
Answer: A loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt of a tightly woven fabric will allow the air to get to your skin while keeping the sun off. Your sun hat and sunglasses will finish up the major part of your protection.
Covering your skin from the sun really is not that hard. We have allowed our ideas to be swayed by fashion and media about covering our skin. This is part of our “education.” We learn that it is sexy to show more skin. People think that you are self-confident when you show more skin!
Shedding some of our clothing is our way of not looking like our parents.
Even today, we notice when someone’s religion makes them dress differently. When women wear a bandana tied on their heads over their hair, every day. Or other religious traditions.
You may notice when people chose, as gang members to wear certain colors. We even show up at the grandkid’s football games in the tee-shirts of the teams’ colors to show which team we are supporting. We want the other attendees to know which team we will be rooting for.
Is showing their skin indicating independence in the mind of the person bearing their skin? Is being independent worth the price of a sunburn?
Yes, we need the sun to reach our skin to allow some vitamin D to be made in our bodies. So for 20 minutes in the less intense hours of the day, on your arms, and face. About 3 times a week will give you all the sun your need.
Your sun sessions should be before the sun is high right overhead. This is not a time when more is better. More is dangerous.
What Your Skin Is Supposed To Do
At its thickest point, your skin is only a few millimeters thick.
Even so, your skin is still your largest as well as the heaviest organ of your body.
Your skin equals one-seventh (1/7) of your total body weight.
Depending on your height and weight, your skin weighs between 7.5 to 22 pounds.
The surface area of your skin equals (about) 2825 to 3100 square inches. There is definitely more than meets the eye for the importance of your skin and its effect on your body and the skin’s metabolism.
(Metabolism of your skin is referring to the entire list of processes that make up the enzymatic reactions that a compound undergoes when our body starts digesting that compound for use.
Usually, ‘metabolism’ refers to the activity of our liver enzymes as it converts compounds to something our body is able to excrete.)
However, as our body, and each and every organ, skin included is constantly renewing itself, it contains a variety of metabolic enzymes. These enzymes have a delicate balance to operate within to be able to act on the substrates that are present in the tissue to maintain health and homeostasis.
Homeostasis refers to a state of balance among all your body systems that are needed for your body to survive and function correctly.
In homeostasis, your body is automatically and constantly adjusting your body’s levels of acid, blood pressure, blood sugar, electrolytes, energy, hormones, oxygen, proteins, and temperature. This is how your inside and outside body is able to have the normal levels needed for good health.
Source: Nation Cancer Insitute https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279255/#
What Is Our Skin Supposed To Do?
Yes, I know that was quite a bit more than you expected, and me too, as I have forgotten so much of what I knew about how healthy skin functions. However, it explains the necessity of keeping our skin healthy and not allowing the sun to cause us ongoing problems.
With all that stuff going on to keep our bodies healthy, there are other things that our skin is responsible for.
I like to think of our skin as a ‘sock.’ A body sock if you will!
It is a stable covering but is flexible. This body sock is protecting my body like peeling on a banana, just a bit more flexible. It is protecting me from dangerous things in the outside world.
From keeping out moisture, cold, and heat like the sun’s rays. Then there are germs and toxic substances. Often physicians can diagnose if our body is healthy by just looking at our skin.
Trained people can tell your age, and if you do or do not have certain medical conditions like too few red blood cells, or if you have hepatitis from the yellowish color of your skin.
Regulating our body temperature is an important part of the skin body sock responsibilities. Preventing dehydration, as well as too much heat or cold.
Your skin lets your body feel sensations like warmth, cold, pressure, itching, or pain. Often these sensations involve automatic reactions like yanking your hand back from hot objects.
The Next Kind Of Responsibility Your Skin Has
Your skin also functions as a large storeroom for the body: The deepest layer of skin can soak up and store water, fat and metabolic products. Then your skin will produce hormones that are important for your whole body.
When your skin is injured, your blood supply to your skin increases. This increase in blood will enable your body to deliver various substances to your wounded area so it is protected from infections and can heal faster.
As the wound heals, new cells produce what you need to form new skin and blood vessels. The depth and size of the wound determine how it heals. And whether there is a scar. An example of Homeostasis.
The 3 layers of your skin must work well together. This sock that makes up your skin will be a lot like some sports socks. You know the ones that are reinforced on the heels or where ever extra protection is needed.
Your skin also has thick and thin areas. Now here is where the skin is unlike a sock! The thickness of your skin depends on age and if you are male or female.
Like socks, older people and younger people have thinner skin. Men usually have thicker skin.
Your skin protects your body in many ways. “The skin provides a barrier to protect the body from invasion by bacteria and other possible environmental hazards that can be dangerous for human health.”
So we don’t want the sun to shine too much on our skin. We don’t want weak spots in our skin that interfere with the protection from this amazing sock.
The sun will weaken the fibers in materials just like it does in our skin. The sun is a dangerous force and we need to stay aware so we aren’t caught off guard.
Now, Let’s Get Back To Sunscreen Makes Me Itchy
For all these reasons your skin is important to your overall health, and you find yourself reacting to sunscreen? Obviously, you should not apply sunscreen to your skin and run the risk of infection from scratching and irritation.
Most times the advice we get is to try to isolate the formulas we react to and figure out through the process of elimination what we are allergic to. Who wants to spend all summer doing that? Not me!
Wearing clothing is so much easier! And in case you haven’t realized by now, easy is important to me. Is it to you? Why keep “trying” to figure out what caused my skin to react? Skip the chase and get to the fix. Cover my skin.
There I have said it out loud. Cover My Skin. The easiest and most sensible thing I can do is to protect myself from the sun. Easier for my family as well. I just haven’t fully convinced them. They are getting there.
So Covering Our Skin Is A Plan
Starting with your sunglasses and at least a 3-inch-wide brim on that sun hat, and 99 to 100% UV blocking on the sunglasses. Wear a sunblocking shirt that is a darker color or rated at least 30 UPF if a lighter color. A loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt is important. Extended cuffs will protect the tops of your hands.
If working out in the sun, you should have gloves to cover your hands, especially the top of your hands where skin cancer of often found. Like your head, ears, nose, face, and neck, covering your skin is important.
Wearing long pants or skirts also increases your skin safety. Shoes that cover the tops of your feet. Remember when you used to kick off your shoes to let the sun tan your feet? Not a good idea.
Life Style Changes
Like covering your skin, your lifestyle is important for healthy skin. Do you always think you should play your rounds of golf between 10 AM and 2 PM?
Is it the only time you like to ride your bike, during these hours? Safer times are before 10 AM and after 4 PM during the more direct sun days. Actually any day. Even in the winter months, the hours you are in the direct sun are not that safe for your skin.
You need to make yourself aware of the safer times to enjoy the sun and observe the safer hours. You can enjoy the sun, even on your skin as long as it is early or late, not mid-day. Is that such a hard thing to do?
Learn to watch for shade. Take breaks under a tree’s shade, or an awning. The shade produced by a building can often be accompanied by heat, so we tend to avoid it, but the shade is good.
Wearing sun blocking clothing to protect our skin is much easier than healing from sunburn.
Pack away and trash your desire for a tan. A tan is not good for your skin sock!
Sami’s Take On Sunscreen Makes Me Itchy
Different medications, getting older? Or did the company change the formula? What causes the skin to itch when sunscreen is applied? Does the itch start when first applied, or after you got in the sun?
Wearing clothes is easier for me. Yes, it is easier to avoid irritated skin that results in itchy skin and scratched places that get infected.
Of course, I have had several skin cancers removed already. I know my probability of more skin cancers with sun exposure is higher than yours. However, the idea of not warning you about the thin ice you are on worries me.
What can I say to help you understand how bad skin cancer can be?
If you can’t wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, you have to do something. If you don’t have UPF clothing, wear something from your closet that will keep the sun off your skin or stay out of the sun.
Something is better than nothing for skin protection. A worn tee shirt offers little protection but is better than nothing.