Double trouble: Sunlight, sunblock both cause problems

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Q. Can you tell me what to do about sunblock? I have become increasingly sensitive to the sun, although I always wear sunblock.

The problem is that I seem to be allergic to the ingredients that make sunblock work. I have even tried hypoallergenic brands, but my face gets bright red and puffs up no matter which brand I try.

Could you recommend any kind of sunblock that won't ruin my skin? The skin on my face seems the most sensitive. I always wear a big hat when I am out in the sun, but even so, my face breaks out. When I use sunblock on my arms and my legs, however, I don't seem to have the same reaction.

A. You might be allergic to one of the chemicals that protect against ultraviolet radiation from the sun or to a fragrance or preservative in the formulation. The word "hypoallergenic" on a label does not guarantee that a skin-care product is safe for everyone. The face is especially sensitive.

A sunscreen containing only physical blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide would be worth a try. Look for Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock SPF 30. And keep your hat on. Even though it is not protecting you completely, it is unwise to rely too heavily on sunscreens.

Q. I read in your column about people who can't give up their nasal sprays. I was addicted to Afrin for years. I even had permission to take it with me into the labor room when I gave birth.

Last year my doctor said I needed to get off Afrin and restricted me to saline spray. This didn't help until I found 4-Way Saline Moisturizing Mist. It contains eucalyptol and menthol and is not expensive. It worked for me, and I hope it helps someone else.

A. Thanks for the tip. Saline sprays can be helpful in easing this drug dependence.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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