The Sunscreen Squad

Allergic to sunlight?

Posted in sunscreen by sunscreensquad on January 10, 2010

I was talking to someone the other day who says she develops red bumps on her skin within minutes when she is in the sun. She said if she uses sunscreen it helps a lot but she still gets this rash. I told her to use a mineral sunscreen like zinc because it blocks UVA more effectively.  Like most people (including myself a couple of years back) she had no idea what I was talking about.. I wondered how widespread her condition is? This particular lady was Asian with a dark complexion.

Here is what I found out about the various types of rashes caused by sunlight or heat;

Solar Urticaria
Cause: Exposure to sunlight. Not serious.
Symptoms: Itching, redness and hives on areas of skin within minutes of exposure to sunlight. Sometimes mistaken for sunburn, but appears quicker, and goes away within a day after sun exposure is stopped.
Prevention: Use broad spectrum sunscreen (blocks UVA and UVB).

Polymorphic light eruption: Common alergic reaction to sunlight. Not serious.
Cause: Exposure to sunlight
Symptoms: Red pimples,blisters or scaly skin appears from 1-4 days after sun exposure
Prevention: Use broad spectrum sunscreen (blocks UVA and UVB).

Sensitivity caused by topical creams or medication;
Your medication may be causing a reaction on your skin when exposed to sunlight. You may be even be allergic to sunscreen. If so, try a sunscreen with zinc or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient.

Cholinergic or heat urticaria
Cause: Increase in body temperature from hot showers, exercise, spicy foods, or panic/ high stress.
Symptoms: Chronic hives
Prevention: Basically, avoid being hot. Take cool showers with mild soap and wear loose, cool clothing. Don’t have too many covers on when sleeping.

Heat rash or prickly heat syndrome
Cause: Blocked sweat glands.
Symptoms: Inflammation and rash.
Prevention: As above, keep cool wear cool clothing, take cool showers with mild soap. Avoid any unnecessary creams or powders because they will make it worse.

You should see a doctor about these rashes just to make sure they are not serious diseases like
porphyria or systemic lupus erythematosus.


Close Your Window Shade! Melanoma up to 25 Times Higher in Pilots

Posted in sunscreen by sunscreensquad on October 3, 2008

A physio friend of mine told me of a study of melanoma skin cancer in pilots. I did a bit of Googling and found out that pilots’ melanoma risk is up to 25 TIMES higher! You know, it makes complete sense to think that at that altitude, above the cloud, UV radiation would be stronger…

This is a snippet of an article from a BBC story on the study:

“Farrol Kahn, director of the Aviation Health Institute, said: “One of the main factors would probably be from the radiation because pilots usually sit in the cockpit in short sleeves next to the windows”
BBC Pilots have ‘higher skin cancer risk’ Thursday, 17 February, 2000