If You Have Any Of These Symptoms, You May Be Allergic To Sunscreen

What's the first thing you reach for on a beach day? Probably your swimsuit or towel, but there's something much more important every trip to the sun and fun needs: sunscreen. It's what keeps us safe from ultraviolet rays, which can damage our skin and even cause cancer. Because these rays are so powerful, you should be wearing an SPF every day, whether the sun is out or not (per GoodRx Health).


Unfortunately, sunscreen doesn't agree with all of us and can lead to an allergic reaction in certain people. Perhaps you've experienced some mild side effects after applying sunscreen but thought nothing of it. That reaction, though, could be a sign of a larger problem at hand. Your body chemistry might not agree with sunscreen, and there is a chance you could have a full-blown reaction that needs immediate attention. With that said, if you have any of these symptoms after applying the product, you may be allergic.

Hives or red, itchy skin

A sure sign of any allergic reaction is when the body forms red, raised welts, which are also called hives. A sunscreen allergy is no different. According to Cleveland Clinic, our skin contains immune cells known as mast cells. When these cells detect danger, they go to work by releasing histamine, which causes hives. The thing about a sunscreen allergy is that you might not know about it until years later. While some people form hives right away, others won't show symptoms until further in the future.


If your skin becomes itchy after applying sunscreen and a rash starts to form, you may be allergic. The best way to prevent these allergic reactions is by performing a patch test on a small area of skin (per DermNet). Over the course of a few consecutive days, simply apply a tiny dab of sunscreen to a small area on the skin, like the inside of your wrist or forearm, and wait for any reaction. If you have none, great! But if you think you might be allergic, it's important you speak with your dermatologist.

Treatment options

Luckily, there are treatments for sunscreen allergies. The cause of the reaction is due to the sunscreen's active ingredients, such as oxybenzone, cinoxate, and octinoxate, to name a few (per Colorescience). These haven't been approved by the FDA, therefore they cannot be considered safe for use. When you're shopping for sunscreen, keep an eye out for products that contain these ingredients, and avoid them at all costs. Instead, talk to your dermatologist about what works best for you. They may recommend metal oxide options like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, according to DermNet.


For quick, at-home remedies, try applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly or calamine lotion in order to soothe and moisturize the area, Medical News Today suggests. You can also use a cold compress, which will work to reduce any pain and inflammation the reaction has caused. If you're still dealing with itchy skin, antihistamines will reduce the discomfort.