Sunscreen Allergy: A Review of Epidemiology, Clinical Characteristics, and Responsible Allergens

Elyse Scheuer; Erin Warshaw


Dermatitis. 2006;17(1):3-11. 

In This Article

Clinical Features of Sunscreen Allergy

The clinical features of allergic and photoallergic responses to sunscreens are often indistinguishable because sunscreens are typically applied to body sites that are exposed to light. Both reactions are characterized by an eczematous dermatitis that may be acute, subacute, or chronic. Photoallergic contact dermatitis in any form logically affects sun-exposed areas such as the face, the "V" of the anterior neck, the dorsal hands, and forearms. Typically, the upper eyelids, upper lip, and submental and postauricular areas are spared. Any skin area that receives sufficient light and is exposed to a photosensitizing chemical may be affected, however.[4] Unilateral involvement may be seen after application of the photosensitizing sunscreen agent to a particular body site or after greater exposure of one body site as compared to another. Transfer from one body site to another may also occur.