Easy to diagnose but ignored some of the time, sun allergies are caused by reactions of the immune system to sunlight and they manifest as rashes most of the time, on areas of the skin exposed to the sun. Find out more about the types of sun allergies and the proper treatments.
Also known as photosensitivity, any allergy to the sun can be treated whether they’re inherited or caused by prescription drugs which increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
Types of Sun Allergies
The most immediate type of sun allergies is the solar urticaria. Within minutes of exposure to sunlight, the skin starts to show hives, but this is a rare condition, most commonly present in Caucasian young women.
PMLE or polymorphous light eruptions is a more common type of allergy to the sun and affects people from all races and of all ages. The symptoms can take a while to develop. It’s usually observed after 2 hours after exposure, in the form of a sun allergy rash that can also cause sensation of itchiness and burning.
Actinic prurigo or hereditary PMLE is usually observed in people with American Indian ethnicity and the symptoms, involving rashes, usually appear on the face only.
Sun allergies can also be caused by chemicals applied to the skin or ingested. This type is called a photoallergic eruption and can even spread on skin that hasn’t been exposed directly to sunlight.
Sun Allergy Symptoms
Most common symptoms include redness of the skin, followed by itching, burning or even pain. Sun allergy symptoms can also include blisters or hives on skin areas directly exposed to the sun, raised bumps that may form raised patches on the skin.
In some severe cases, when the first signs are ignored and the exposure continues, sun allergy symptoms can even include scaling and crusting of the skin.
Sun Allergy Treatment
Up to 15% of Americans suffer from a form of sun allergy, the most common being PMLE. Depending on symptoms, you can use topical creams with corticosteroids, but in the case of a very severe allergy to the sun, a dermatologist may prescribe oral medication as well.
Sun Allergy Prevention
The best way to avoid the sun allergy rash or any other unpleasant symptoms is to protect yourself correctly from exposure to UV rays. Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 and make sure you also use a special balm for your lips with an even higher SPF.