DEAR ASK THE DOCTOR: My son gets a red rash every time I put sun tan lotion on him. My doctor told me to try out all of the products out there until i find one that does not irritate him.
I’ve tried so many of them, yet nothing seems to work at all. What do I do?
DEAR SUSAN: You seem fairly certain that the sun creams you have applied to his skin cause your son’s rash, but you don't say how soon the rash appears after you've put the cream on.
If it's within a few minutes, and affects only the areas of the body where the cream has been applied, then there can be no doubt that he is allergic to some ingredient in the cream.
If it takes a lot longer for the rash to appear and if it affects areas of his body that are exposed to the sun but haven't necessarily had cream applied to them, then there is always a possibility that your son's skin is reacting to sun exposure rather than to the sun cream.
If it seems clear that the rash is a reaction to one or more types of sun cream I'm afraid I don't think there is any easy way to identify which product he will be OK with. Unfortunately, not all sun cream manufacturers list individual ingredients contained in their products so you may not easily be able to compare one with another.
I know that some people with eczema have developed a reaction to sun creams containing lanolin so it's worth trying to find a product that is lanolin-free. The Boots Soltan range contains a number of products that have no lanolin in them.
If you try numerous sun creams and your son develops a rash with all of them you could ask your GP if there is an allergy clinic at one of your local hospitals and if so, whether they have the facilities to do allergy testing for specific chemicals in sun creams. This would certainly be an unusual request and they may say that such testing isn't feasible, but there would be no harm in asking!