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Zinc Stink

Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to zinc oxide?

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Question:

Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to zinc oxide? My friend lathered up with it after getting a severe sunburn, and she experienced swelling and considerable pain

Answer:

Unless your friend is sensitive to other skin products, the swelling and pain probably came from the burn. Lee Kaplan, M.D., dermatologist and member of the Wilderness Medical Society, says, “Zinc oxide sometimes causes skin irritation but not, to my knowledge, a true allergic reaction.” To be safe, test all sunscreens on a small area of your skin. If there’s no reaction after a few hours, you should be fine.