It’s no secret that chemicals used in sunscreens can cause photoallergic contact reactions in adults. However, there’s sparse research on the extent to which sunscreen chemicals cause photoallergic reactions in children.
With that in mind, researchers from the Centre for Dermatology at the University of Manchester in England assessed the frequency of sunscreen photoallergy and contact allergy in children younger than 18 who’d been examined for potential photosensitivity.
The researchers did a retrospective analysis of data on 157 children — 69 male, 88 female — who from 2000 to 2011 had undergone photopatch testing for nine ultraviolet (UV) filters and for sunscreen products. Duplicate series of UV filters and the children’s own sunscreen products were applied to their back, with readings taken at sample removal and at 24 and 48 hours after UVA exposure of one series.
A total of 10 children (6.4 percent) showed positive photopatch responses to UV filters and/or their sunscreen products (4.5 percent to the former, 5.7 percent to the latter). The responsible UV filters most often identified were benzophenone-3 and octyl methoxycinnamate. Also, the researchers identified contact allergy reactions in nine children (5.7 percent), with 16 children (10.2 percent) showing photoallergy and/or contact allergy to UV filters and/or sunscreen products.
“Dermatologists should consider that photocontact allergy to sunscreens may be causing or contributing to the photosensitive symptoms presenting in children,” study author Lesley Rhodes, M.D., tells Dermatology Times.
The study findings were published in the August issue of the British Journal of Dermatology.