Dermatologists agree that slathering on sunscreen is a must to avoid skin cancer. But if you’ve got sensitive skin, you might experience a sunscreen reaction—either contact dermatitis (the medical term for skin irritation), an often itchy, red rash caused by allergy to chemical ingredients, or breakouts caused by oils. Sunscreens containing PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) have even been known to make a small group of people more sensitive to the sun, increasing sunburn. If you’ve been a victim of a sunscreen reaction, here’s how to treat it.
Things You'll Need
- Mild Face Soap
- Hydro-Cortisone Cream 1%
- Acne Medication
Treating Contact Dermatitis Caused by Sunscreen
Remove the sunscreen you suspect caused the reaction using water and a mild soap (ideally, the bottle will indicate it is “mild” or for “sensitive skin”). Gently pat skin dry with a clean towel; rubbing will only irritate skin further.
Apply hydro-cortisone cream 1 percent (available in most drugstores) sparingly to the irritated skin. Make sure to follow directions, as some hydro-cortisone creams (usually those with high concentrations) can be dangerous in large doses or when applied to certain areas.
If nothing seems to work or you’re increasingly experiencing reactions, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Bring in all formulas that may have caused your skin to react. A doctor should be able to properly diagnose the cause of your reaction and prescribe an appropriate treatment.
Treating Breakouts Caused by Sunscreen
Remove the sunscreen with a mild wash made for acne-prone skin. Gently pat skin dry with a clean towel.
Apply an over-the-counter acne medication with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to affected areas. Alternatively, you could use both types of medicine, alternating salicylic acid in the morning and benzoyl peroxide, which tends to be drying, in the evening.
If breakouts worsen, visit a dermatologist. Bring the sunscreen you suspect caused the reaction. A dermatologist will be able to identify whether your acne is caused by the sunscreen or another factor.