For anyone who loves the great outdoors, the idea of being allergic to the sun may sound frightening. It might even sound impossible, but it’s not. Some types of sun allergies are surprisingly common. While an allergist can certainly look at the rash and determine whether you could have a sun allergy, you may be dealing with a sun allergy if you develop the symptoms after being exposed to the sun,
- Crusty, itchy bumps on the skin (known as actinic prurigo)
- A burning rash that may develop a fluid-filled blister (polymorphic light eruption)
- Hives that may burn or itch
These symptoms most often flare-up during the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer, and people spend more time outdoors. The rash or sensitivity most often develops on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face and neck, chest, arms, and legs; however, those with severe sun allergies may develop a rash on areas of the body that aren’t exposed to the sun.
What causes sun allergies?
Some people can thank genetics for their sun allergy, while others may develop sun allergies due to certain medications such as antibiotics or antihistamines. In other cases, the cause is unknown.
What is the best way to handle a sun allergy?
It’s important that those with a hypersensitivity to the sun avoid spending extended periods of time outdoors, particularly between the hours of 10 am-4 pm. It’s important that everyone, particularly people with sun allergies, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Make sure to apply the sunscreen liberally for about 30 minutes before going outside.
If you are taking any medications make sure to check the labels to see if they mention anything about photosensitivity. If so, you must heed the warning and avoid being out in the sun as much as possible. If you have a true sun allergy, your allergist is going to be able to provide you with the best course of action to help you manage your condition and prevent sun allergies from flaring up.
If you suspect that you might have a photosensitivity disorder, or if you’re dealing with recurring hives, an allergist is often the best doctor to turn to for answers. An allergist can examine skin rashes and provide allergy testing to determine whether the sun or other allergens could be to blame for your symptoms.