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Suncreen Reaction

Hello, everybody...

My mother has had a skin condition for years and years - she is allergic to many topical cosmetics/all sunscreens (besides some antibiotics, and being lactose intolerant, etc.). The doctors put her through tests and they thought that she was allergic to PABA, but when they put her on PABA-free sunscreen, she still broke out. She breaks out seriously - once, when the response was to trying on clothes in a department store (she thinks), she had a large, painful rash covering probably 1/3 of her body for many months (six?). What was interesting this time, though, was that she tried a new sunscreen by rubbing a decent amount on her arm and waiting a week, and she didn't break out at all - but when she used the same bottle of sunscreen in Cuba, she had a horrible reaction (had to get injections, go on medication - her legs are swollen considerably, and red, and she has large blisters, limps when she walks). The only difference in application was that, in Cuba, she actually was wearing it out in the sun, it wasn't just being worn inside. Could it be possible that she's allergic to a byproduct produced when sunscreen is exposed to sunlight, or something?

Thank you!
4 Responses
Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi,

Your mom appears to be hypersensitive to a specific sunscreen component.

I suggest she avoids wearing any for the mean time if this is possible as this may only trigger a reaction each time.

Has she ever tried using a foundation with built in SPF ? Or blush on with sunscreen protection? If yes, has any of these also triggered an attack?

Although , a bit more expensive, she may want to try purely organic or mineral based cosmetics.Has she tried any of these?

I suggest that your mother avoid all these possible triggers. A consult with an allergologist may be able to help .An allergy skin test may be beneficial to determine all other possible triggers.
309783 tn?1271958229
Hi. I have difficulty using sunscreens too, as my skin is very reactive. The best one I can recommend is by Clarins and is made from minerals rather than chemicals. It is also possible that the rash is caused by the sun itself, I am photosensitive and get a rash from exposure to UV rays. Loiloi xx
Avatar universal
Thank you for the help!

I have used mineral makeup on her before (not outside, but inside the house) with one of few ingredients being titanium dioxide and she hasn't broken out, so she could try wearing that. I am just hesitant because I was thinking, if she didn't break out when she tried on her last sunscreen the first time in the house, yet she DID when she used it in the sun, could it be not necessarily the ingredient in the sunscreen, but an ingredient in the sunscreen when it reacts to sunlight, or something? She has had many allergy tests, but they cannot figure out what exactly she is allergic to.
Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi,

Allergic reactions are a complex lot and the triggers may be difficult to determine.There seems to be an interplay of environment,diet, genetics and immune responses.With regards to your mom's case the wisest and safest way to deal with this  is to stick to what seems to work for her. Has she ever flared under the sun without using a suncreen? If yes, then she may be photosensitive as mentioned by loiloi.

If the organic or mineral based sunscreen worked for her then stick to this. If she seems to flare with the sunscreens under the sun,then you may opt not to let her wear any.A wide brimmed hat or an umbrella may prevent direct exposure to the sun's heat.
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