Monthly Archives: June 2017


Everything Under the Sun About Sunscreen Allergies

SunscreenThe days when no one thought twice about spending hours in the sun without skin protection — and maybe even applied baby oil for that deep-golden tan — are well over. Today, we are all aware of the correlations between sun exposure and skin damage (including cancer) and the benefits of applying sunscreen everyday. Unfortunately, we probably don’t apply it as often as we should, so if you’d like a reminder of why it’s important, visit the “Sunscreen Facts” page on the Melanoma Research Foundation.

For some people, however, sunscreen can cause an allergic reaction, doing more harm than good. “Are You Allergic to Sunscreen,” an article on Everyday Health explains:

Sunscreens work because they contain chemicals that absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation and keep them from penetrating your skin. Some of these chemicals, including oxybenzone, 4-isopropyl-dibenzoylmethane, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), esters, avobenzone, and cinnamates, have been known to cause an allergic reaction in certain people.

There are two ways that a sunscreen allergy can present: contact allergy and contact photoallergy.

  1. A contact allergy, also known as contact dermatitis, occurs when your immune system reacts to something in the sunscreen, which can be any of the chemicals listed above, but also a fragrance or preservative. The reaction will affect an area where the sunscreen was applied, and may ever reach beyond.
  2. A contact photoallergy is a negative interaction between the sun and a chemical(s) in the sunscreen that triggers your immune system to attack. This type is pretty rare and will usually only appear on skin that has been exposed to the sun. It is also different from solar urticaria, which is a direction to the sun and doesn’t require additional chemicals.

Both reactions can cause itching, redness, swelling, hives or blisters, and there is no telling if the symptoms will occur immediately or a few days later. And like the allergies we talked about in last week’s blog, “The Comings and Goings of Allergies,” even if you have never had a problem with sunscreen, you can become allergic at any time.

What to do if you think you are allergic to your sunscreen:

  1. Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  2. Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses.
  3. Find a physical sunscreen, which is comprised of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and won’t penetrate your skin.
  4. Find a sunscreen that does not contain the element you are allergic to.
  5. Make an appointment with our expert team at CT Sinus Center for allergy testing in order to find out exactly what is causing your reaction.

When you come into one of our four conveniently-located offices, we will sit down with you to discuss your symptoms and medical history and perform a thorough exam in order to not only confirm that you do have a sunscreen allergy, but also to pinpoint what triggers it (making #4 much less of a trial-and-error process). Once the results are in, we’ll develop a treatment plan that is right for you and your lifestyle.

Don’t spend the summer in the shade, call 860-Balloon today and get back to enjoying fun in the sun with the confidence that your skin (and health) is protected.

For more information on all things allergies and sinusitis, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.


The Comings and Goings of Allergies

AllergiesAllergies are one of the great wonders of the world, as in: We wonder where they come from, when they are going to develop and if we are going to grow out of them. One thing we do know is what an allergy is. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains:

If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

The actual way people react to these allergens can vary depending on the person. In fact, the allergies can vary within the person. For example, the intensity and presentation of your allergies can be different from season to season, although it’s difficult to tell if this is due to environmental or biological factors. In addition, you may react differently from allergens. For example, you may react to one type of pollen, but not another, or even one dog and not another.

Again, why this happens no one knows. To add to the mystery, in the article “Outgrowing Allergies” on the Everyday Health website, Clifford W. Bassett, MD, a clinical instructor in the division of infectious diseases and immunology at the New York University School of Medicine tells us: “In general, as kids get older they can grow out of allergies. But there’s a whole world where, for millions of people, that’s not the case. Some people even grow into allergies.”

Research has shown that most children will not grow out of seasonal allergies, however, food allergies are a different story. “Outgrowing Allergies” explains:

Until recently, most allergists thought that children with milk allergies would outgrow them by age 3 or 4. But a recent study by doctors at Johns Hopkins University showed that the majority of kids won’t outgrow milk allergies until much later, possibly as late as age 16.

Allergies to soy, eggs, and wheat will often be outgrown by the time the child is a teenager. However, if children are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds, there is a good chance — about 80 percent for peanuts and 90 percent for tree nuts — that they will remain allergic as adults.

Some research has suggested that this coming and going of allergies occurs because every seven years, the cells in your body replace themselves, basically giving you a brand new system that reacts differently to allergens. However, this is only partly true. Your cells do die and replace themselves, but each type of cell has its own lifespan and with trillions of cells in your body doing their own thing, there is no set schedule.

So if you find yourself suddenly suffering from allergies or are waiting for that seven-year mark when they disappear forever, it’s time to be proactive. Whether it’s food, pets, or nature causing your symptoms, the expert staff at CT Sinus Center can help end them forever.

Call 860-BALLOON today and schedule your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices for allergy testing and an individualized treatment plan that will make you wonder why you haven’t visited our office sooner..

For more information on allergies and sinusitis, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.


The Biting Truth about Insect Allergies

Insect Summer is here, which means that so are the bugs, and unfortunately, bug bites. Getting bit or stung is uncomfortable for everyone, but for some people, it can be deadly. Insect and bug allergies can range from mild to severe, the latter of which needing immediate medical attention.

How do you know if you are having an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting?

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction. For most people, a sting or bite causes some pain, itching, swelling and/or redness at the spot. The swelling can spread to a larger area (called large local reaction), but unless it is accompanied by extreme pain, will clear up on it’s own in a few days. However, if the extended spot is really painful, antihistamines and corticosteroids might be prescribed to make you more comfortable.

In the case of a severe allergic reaction, you will need immediate help. The American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology (ACAAI) lists the following symptoms of a severe reaction:

  • Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue or throat, or difficulty swallowing
  • Anaphylaxis

The good news is that a severe reaction is rare and most bites and stings will heal on their own within a few hours or days. Of course the best way to deal with bug bites is to not get them at all. But unfortunately, that’s not that easy and if you do get stung, WebMD offers some at-home first-aid (including what to do if the little pest left its stinger behind).  If you search online, you can also find natural remedies such as ice, honey, garlic, menthol, banana and essential oils that can help with discomfort.

If you think you’ve had an allergic reaction to an insect in the past, consult an allergist such as our expert team at CT Sinus Center. When you come in our staff will take a detailed history of your medical history and past reactions. Next, we’ll provide a series of test to find out exactly what and how severe your allergy is. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll provide you with an individualized treatment plan that will help take the sting out of your allergy.

Call CT Sinus Center today at 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you keep allergies from bugging you.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions and treatments, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.