We are often advised to wear a sunscreen when going out in the sun. Sun protection is essential, especially to prevent skin cancers, sunburn and premature aging. But, chemical sunscreens can have side effects and pose risks due to some medications used in them such as tetracyclines, sulfa drugs, phenothiazines etc.
How to Use Sunscreen:
- Apply the sunscreen all over the exposed skin.
- You must do this 30 minutes before going out in the sun.
- It is advised to re-apply the sunscreen after swimming, sweating etc.
- Even if you are indoors, keep re-applying sunscreen after every 4 hours.
Side Effects of Sunscreen
Here are some of the side effects of sunscreen:
1. Allergic Reactions:
Sunscreens include some chemicals that can cause skin irritation such as redness, swelling, irritation and itching. Some people develop severe allergic reactions with rashes and intense itching. This allergic reaction can be the result of chemicals found in sunscreens like fragrances and preservatives. PABA is ideally used in many commercial sunscreens that can cause a high rate of allergic reactions. Hence, this is getting removed from many popular sunscreens of reputed brands.
You can even buy sunscreens with the label ‘hypoallergenic’. Sunscreens that don’t contain PABA are often labeled, but some other chemical can lead to an allergic problem. If you are not sure about the allergic reaction that may be caused by a sunscreen product, get a patch test done by a dermatologist. You can use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, as they are less allergic.
2. Sunscreens Can Make Acne Worse:
If you have acne-prone skin, some chemicals in the sunscreen product can worsen your problem. To get rid of this side effect of sunscreen, you can choose non-comedogenic and non-oily sunscreens. It is suggested to use a sunscreen best suited for your skin type. Avoid using body sunscreens on the face, as these are too heavy.
3. Eye Irritation:
Getting sunscreen into the eye can cause pain and irritation. This can also lead to burning and temporary sensitivity to light. Some claim that chemical sunscreens can also cause blindness. If the sunscreen gets into the eyes, rinse them thoroughly with cool water or see your doctor.
4. Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer:
Sunscreen includes ingredients that can have estrogenic effects on breast cancer cells. Some sunscreens can have effects on blood estrogens levels. Avoid using chemical sunscreens on your children, as their skin tends to absorb the chemicals instantly.
5. Pain in Hairy Areas:
There are varieties of sunscreen that can be confusing to choose from. They are also available in many forms like gels, lotions, sprays, ointments, creams and wax sticks. It is your personal choice to choose the type of sunscreen. Gels are best for hairy areas like the scalp or the male chest. Some sunscreens can lead to tightening or drying of the skin and can cause pain in hairy areas.
6. Pus in the Hair Follicles:
Sunscreens can cause itchy spots on the skin that tend to develop into bumpy red rashes. Sometimes, these also turn into pus-filled blisters around the hair follicles.
Tips To Avoid The Side Effects Caused By Sunscreen:
- Wash off and stop using the sunscreen, if it causes redness or irritation.
- Talk to your doctor or seek the pharmacist’s advice about using a new sunscreen.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, if you are outside for long periods.
- If you are using the lip balm form of sunscreen, apply on the lip area only.
- Choose Sunscreen for your children very wisely.
- Avoid using sunscreen on kids younger than 6 months.
- Choose oil-free and non comedogenic sunscreen, if you have oily skin.
As mentioned above, there are numerous side effects of sunscreen. The best way to get rid of such problems is to use natural products that are chemical-free. You can choose from titanium oxide or zinc oxide-based sunscreens to keep allergic reactions or estrogenic effects at bay.