As mentioned in point 2, those with sensitive skins should use mineral or physical sunscreens, says Dr Webster. The superfine metals that they contain, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are inert, which makes a skin reaction virtually impossible.
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How common are sun allergies, and how do you know if you have one?
‘Polymorphous or polymorphic light eruption is a rash caused by sun exposure in people who have developed sensitivity to sunlight,’ says Dr Alek Nikolic. ‘The rash usually appears as tiny red bumps or slightly raised patches of skin. It is estimated that up to 10% of the general population suffers from allergic reactions to the sun.’
What is the best way to treat a heat rash?
Heat rash occurs when the sweat glands are blocked and sweat cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate. This causes
inflammation, resulting in a rash.
‘Wet the skin, wear loose clothing, or cool the skin with a fan or in an air-conditioned environment,’ Dr Nikolic suggests.
Is it necessary to use an SPF 50 sunscreen, or is SPF 30 enough?
‘It depends on your skin type and how long you are going to be in the sun,’ says Dr Webster. ‘If you have fair skin and you’re planning to be in the sun for longer, go for the SPF 50. But I generally recommend using a high-factor sunscreen, as all these factors have been worked out under perfect laboratory conditions. But real life is not a perfect laboratory, and research has shown that we usually don’t apply sunscreen thickly enough over a large area. Therefore, it’s safer to use a higher factor.’
How do you know if your skin will react to sunscreen – are there any physical signs?
‘There are known medical sensitivities, such as irritant or allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, dry skin and other medical conditions,’ says Dr Nikolic.
You could experience any of the following symptoms:
Welts and/or bumps
Redness and flushing
Dry, flaking skin
Pain or sensitivity to touch
Burning sensation when applying other skin products
How can you tell if sunscreen has expired?
‘Some have an expiry date printed on the bottle, but most sunscreens have an indication of how long they can be used after being opened,’ Dr Webster says. ‘This is usually 9 to 12 months. It’s best to store sunscreen in a dark, cool cupboard and to keep it out of direct heat when you’re on the beach or outdoors.’