Prickly Heat

A letter in response to an article on Suncreams, UVA and prickly heat.

The article is advocating the use of suncreams with UVB and UVA filters/protection to avoid prickly heat. According to the article prickly heat is not caused by the ingredients in suncreams when in the sun but by the reaction of UVA from the sun on the skin.

What follows is my letter to the journalist:

I am confused about the effect of UVA on the skin causing prickly heat. Do you or your family get prickly heat in this country when the UVA in the sun hits your skin, as you say it is penetrating and can even cause problems on cloudy days? If this is the case why isn’t everyone suffering from prickly heat?

I had prickly heat as a child (in this country) and there is no doubt that it was due to some creams I used because it all cleared up when I washed my skin and didn’t use the cream when I was in the sun. When I was studying Beauty Therapy and also through courses with Dermalogica Skincare I learnt that PABAs (para amino benzoic acid) caused prickly heat and possibly bergamot which also causes pigmentation of the skin when used on the skin in the sun.

More recently I was fortunate enough to visit my son in Barbados where he works and both my husband and I developed prickly heat for the first time ever for my husband and for me since a child. I had it on my feet where I had used a natural product to ward off sandflies and mosquitoes that I later read contained bergamot. (it also contained ethanol and I wondered about that too on the skin in the sun) I believe my husband’s was caused by his deoderant spray (he sprays liberally much to my chagrin!!) and the sun on areas which he doesn’t normally expose – his chest. So we stopped using the products when in the sun, applied Aloe Vera gel and Tea tree (because of the analgesic properties in tea tree) to calm the itch and all got better. So despite still being exposed to UVA without protection we did not get more prickly heat.

My husband is Spanish and I used to live in Spain so we are well used to the heat and to the sun although I do have sensitive skin and I will still burn after 10 minutes in the sun. Neither of us bother too much with suncare products when we are in Spain. We’ve never had prickly heat due to the UVA rays and not covering up with suncreams.

For years I have only ever used Olive Oil on my skin in the sun. Contrary to popular thought you don’t fry! Imagine putting a piece of raw meat in a saucepan on the heat with no oil. The meat will burn and peel as it sticks to the pan. When you brown meat with oil in a pan, you are sealing it, that is causing a layer to be produced by the oil on the meat so that it doesn’t stick and tear but holds in its moisture and flavour. All seed oils have a natural sunscreen but it only last for about 10 to 20 minutes. After that I cover up with loose cotton clothing until my skin has developed its own sun protection – melanocytes developing a tan and thickened dead skin layer. My aftersun was rosehip oil with neroli and lavender and aloe vera gel.

I am sorry to disagree with you but what you have said in your article does not make sense to me with what I have been taught or with what I have experienced. This link to some other articles of mine may be helpful, then again, maybe not!! Skincare Try this link Absolutely Pure for some wonderful natural products.

The journalist responded to my question but I do not have his permission to print his email, well I haven’t actually asked for it because he ended his email with: “Let’s agree to differ” and I have taken that to mean ‘no further correspondance please I don’t want to enter into an argument.’ Fair enough! However he pointed out a condition called Polymorphic Light eruption which is when a sensitive individual reacts with the action of sunlight on the skin which can cause a red area (not sunburn) with itchy lumps or tiny spots. I have seen this on a friend of mine who cannot tolerate the sun at all. It looks very painful.

I do think there are two issues here. One is PLE see this link: Polymorphic Light eruption and the other is a reaction on the skin with certain skincare products including sunscreens in the sun. How does one know the difference?

One thought on “Prickly Heat

  1. I once had prickly heat when i went to Mexico. When i went to the doctors when i got back to Manchester, they said that to prvent me getting it again i had to look on the back of suncream bottles, and check that it said either, ‘Non- pore blocking’, or ‘Non deet’. It is the deet that blocks your pores when you swet in the sun, stoping moisture leaving your skin, resulting in prickly heat. Eversince i have looked for this and i now use ‘Boots’ own suncream and i have never got it again. I would recomend it, if you have a problem with prickly heat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *