Sunscreen can be dangerous for people with food allergies

Purchasing sunscreen is an important part of preparing for the summer months.

Believe it or not, top food allergens can be found in sunscreens and can potentially cause serious reactions for people with food allergies.  It’s important to read the inactive ingredient list in anything you apply to your skin very carefully, even in products that claim to be hypo-allergenic or formulated for sensitive skin.

Many companies are now marketing their products as “natural” and adding natural oils that have antioxidant or moisturizing properties. Unfortunately, “natural” can sometimes be a red flag for people with food allergies.

  • Peanut allergy: avoid arachidyl glucoside or arachidyl alcohol, which are peanut derivatives
  • Tree Nut allergy: avoid sweet almond oil, argan oil, ginkgo biloba
  • Soy allergy: sunscreens and skin creams can be soy enriched to help prevent UV damage.

Sunscreen types

The most common sunscreens are chemical absorbers that rubs in to your skin completely. They absorb UVA and UVB radiation and are often marketed to soothe and moisturize skin while protecting you from the suns harmful rays. Since this type of sunscreen is absorbed by the skin, someone with sensitive skin or eczema should always do a patch test before using.

Physical blocker sunscreen lotions are made with  zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and are not absorbed by the skin. Instead, they create a visible silvery-white layer of cream that will reflects sun’s radiation away from the skin. This type of sunscreen is not absorbed into skin, and may be less abrasive for people with sensitive skin or eczema.

Finally, there is shade, the cheapest and most effective sunscreen. Hats, parasols and sun tents are excellent ways to stay out of the sun during peak UVA and UVB hours (11am-3pm). There is also a lot of new UPF 50+ clothing and swimwear available for increased sun protection.

Here are some sunscreen brands that are free of the top food allergens and also work well for sensitive skin: