When you think of summer allergies, you may immediately think of pollen. However, Dr. Rachel Schreiber, allergist at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, notes that there are other allergies that can flare up during the summer.
Two items in particular are sunscreen and bug spray.
“People who have sensitive skin may be more sensitive to the chemicals in sunscreen,” says Dr. Schreiber. “If you have sensitive skin, or have had difficulty with sunscreens causing rashes in the past, look for ingredients that are ‘physical blockers.’”
She says to specifically look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These were the white paste sunscreens that you may have seen on lifeguards years ago. Now the substances are micronized, so they apply clear.
When it comes to bug repellent, the most effective repellent is DEET. Unlike sunscreen, which can be applied multiple times per day, DEET can be applied only once.
“When you apply DEET, it can go on skin and on your clothes. However, do not put it on skin under clothes,” says Dr. Schreiber. “For example, if you are wearing shorts, apply the DEET on the skin on your lower legs, but for your upper legs, since the shorts are covering the skin, apply DEET to your clothing.”
She explains that the repellent can become too concentrated if applied under clothing.