Health queries Life & Style

‘I am allergic to sunscreen’

I am allergic to sunscreen. Is there any other option?

Sunscreens have a lot of formulations, with some brands containing only inert, mineral ingredients. These are called physical sunscreens, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, which contain chemically active sun-blocking ingredients. It is important to know whether it is an active ingredient you are allergic to, or a preservative that’s in the formulation. This can be identified by doing a patch test with your doctor. Also, consider doing a patch test of a product ‘as is’ on a small area of the skin before trying on a larger surface.

Further, it is important to know whether the allergy is a true intolerance to the ingredients of a sunscreen, or a tendency to break out. The latter does not constitute a true allergy, but could simply be due to choosing a wrong formulation. In which case, you just need to switch from say, a lotion to a gel or cream. Finally, oral sunscreens are available, which contain plant-derived antioxidants. These agents have been studied to provide sun protection for tanning and pigmentation, and for prevention of sun-exposure-induced skin malignancies. These are recommended for certain periods of time, and can come in handy during heavy period of sun exposure.

I am an athlete and my skin becomes almost ashen. Is there something I can do?

Let’s look at this in two ways — from the point of view of decreasing exposure and that of increasing sun protection. Outside of the times when you are expected to be in the sun, strictly avoid the sun. Use umbrellas, wide brim hats, and light-coloured clothing. The recommended sunscreens should have an SPF of 50-75 and a high UVA protection factor. Opt for sports sunscreens, usually in spray formulations. Recommended brands are the sports ranges from Heliocare, Avene and Bioderma. Heliocare also has an oral sunscreen option, which can help with both pigmentation and photoprotection. Repeat application every couple of hours. A diet rich in vitamins A, C and E also adds to sun protection. Maintain an optimal fluid intake. Lastly do visit your dermatologist for an evaluation.

Dr Renita Rajan is the Chief Consultant Dermatologist at RENDER Skin & Hair, a cosmetic dermatology clinic in Chennai

Nothing in this column is intended to be, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek independent advice from a licensed practitioner if you have any questions regarding a medical condition. Email us your questions at

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:23:54 AM |

Next Story