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"Can sunblock cause an itchy face?"


Since my family has a history of skin cancer, I'm always careful to use plenty of sunblock when I'm outside. But recently, my face has been horribly itchy at night. Could my sunblock be the culprit? Should I change brands?


First of all, I applaud your use of sunblock while out in the sun. Skin cancer is more common that most people realize and protecting it from harmful radiation is helpful in preventing skin cancer. Skin pruritus (itchiness) has many different causes.

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From a biological standpoint, itching usually occurs when there is a release of histamine by immune cells in the area. The histamine causes your blood vessels to dilate and fill with blood and ultimately cause pruritus. Certainly if you have recently changed the brand, or type of skin block you use that could be responsible for your symptoms. If this is true, then you should notice relief when you stop using the sunblock. If you stop itching after stopping the lotion, then switching brands is a logical first step towards fixing the problem. If you don't get relief from stopping the sunblock, then you should consider other possible causes. A new soap, shampoo, or perfume, could be responsible. You should bring the issue up with your primary care doctor at your next appointment. Make sure to bring in a list of the brands of all the products you use. Consulting a dermatologist may be necessary if your condition persists after your initial evaluation and treatment.

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