Sunblock question

I don’t know if this is the right place to post this, it’s kind of off-the-wall, so I apologize if it’s the wrong place.

Due to some pigmentation problems on my upper lip, starting from 1.5 years ago (I believe from a hair removal cream) my dermatologist started me on Total Block 65spf and Glyquin (bleaching cream). It was noticeably dark, darker than any man’s shadow that I’ve seen. I used the Glyquin for about 6months, it improved a little. I continued with the Total Block every day, only on this area of my skin. Other parts of my skin were totally unaffected. I went through 2 2oz bottles. This stuff isn’t cheap, at least to me, $60/bottle for sunblock. My dermatologist, who is very respected, then put me on a Zinc based sunblock 38spf, because my skin was getting irritated & dry at this point, which I’m still using 1.5yrs later (I can buy this one from the local store).

I’m currently having electrolysis done to get rid of the hair once & for all, so I’m not continuing to damage the skin by waxing & tweezing (another big mistake).

With all that background info, finally, my question is this: Is it logical to think that by using so much sunblock, that area of my skin has become extremely sensitive to the sun? To the point where it darkens as soon as I’m in sunlight? And we’re only talking about riding to places in the car, it’s not like I’m lying on the beach. I know darkening pigmentation is the skin’s defense mechanism, protecting itself. I’ve tried going a month straight with no sunblock and actually my skin feels better than when I use it. When I use it, which means applying it at least twice a day, after the second application, my upper lip area feels like it’s burning. When I don’t use it, after the first few days, I don’t have that burning feeling, but it still won’t tan like the rest of my skin, it just stays a gray like color.

I know theoritcally you can never use too much sunblock and I don’t want to discourage anyone from using sunblock, the higher the spf the better. Everyone use sunblock!

But in my unique situation, is it just a matter of that area of my skin getting used to the sun again? I know pigmentation problems are temporary, which my DR confirms. But 1.5yrs, my goodness, will I ever look the way I did before?
My skin looks like I shave every day, which I don’t. I’ve been on medication for social anxiety disorder because of this. I’d love it if I could stay in my house, away from people staring, until this is completely over, but I can’t, I’ve got a job & bills to pay like everyone else. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? Andrea, any input? Thanks. :frowning:

Everyone’s skin has these structures called melanocytes which produce skin pigment. Each of us have different numbers and densities of these, and the output is diferent for each of us. In my own case, mine are scattered and very sensitive to sun. This causes me to freckle and burn very easily. It’s my skin’s defense against harmful rays from the sun. In other people, the melanocytes are not only triggered by the sun, but also by injuries to the skin like plucking. For instance, some women of African descent can avoid sun sompletely and still get lightening or darkening when they pluck their brows.

So while it’s important to block the sun to take that out of the equation, it’s not the only thing that can cause darkening. The plucking alone can cause problems for some of us. If you notice a change in skin color in an area where you are epilating, I recommend stopping and either using a method that removes hair at the surface, or a permanent option.

[ March 11, 2003, 12:09 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]

Are you by any chance on birth control pills? Those can cause darkening of certain areas of the skin, like upper lip. It’s caused by hormones. I have a bit of it, but not bad. If you’re on a bleaching cream, it’s the cream that makes your skin hypersensitive to the sun, not the sunscreen.

My facial skin is extremely sun-sensitive (sun spots appear really easily) and I think it’s a combination of the pill and massive sun exposure from swimming as a kid and teenager.

Try different sunscreens, too. There are a lot of them that have titanium dioxide, which works like zinc oxide. Clinique’s City Block spf 25 is what I use daily and I’ve never had any irritation. For ANY additional sun exposure I use the zinc oxide based Banana Boat Baby spf 50 or Faces spf 50, also zinc oxide based. I’ve not had any irritation from them.

Good luck!!!