Sun Allergy

1 What is Sun allergy?

Sun allergy is a common term used to describe the changes caused by sun in the skin. The most common form of sun allergy is polymorphic light eruption, also known as sun poisoning.

Some people have a hereditary type of sun allergy. Other develop signs and symptoms only when triggered by another factor such as a medication or skin exposure to a plant such as wild parsnip or illness.

Mild causes of sun allergy may clear without any medical intervention. More severe cases may be treated will need topical application of steroid creams and pills. People who have severe sun allergy will need to wear sun protective clothing.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of sun allergy depend on the disorder that’s causing the problem.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • redness,
  • itching,
  • pain,
  • tiny bumps that may merge into raised patches,
  • scaling,
  • crusting,
  • bleeding,
  • blisters,
  • hives.

Signs and symptoms usually occur when exposed to sun typically developing within minutes to hours after exposure to sun rays.

3 Causes

A sun allergy could be caused by a number of factors, including medications. The mechanism is not clear why some people have allergy towards sun and other don’t have any allergies. Inherited traits may play an important role in development of allergy when exposed to sun.

4 Making a Diagnosis

People with such disease visit dermatologist who diagnose sun allergy only by physical examination. But sometimes additional tests are required. Tests include:

  • Ultraviolet light testing- this examination shows how skin reacts to different wave lengths of light and it can identify the type of sun allergy.
  • Photopatch testing- this test is used in those cases when the allergy is cause by a sensitizing substance applied on the skin before going into the sun.
  • Blood tests and skin samples- these are required in very rare cases. In these tests a blood sample or skin sample are taken for further laboratory examination.

5 Treatment

Treatment varies on the type and severity of sun allergy which includes the following:

  • Avoiding sun- avoiding sun for few days maybe enough to resolve the signs and symptoms in mild cases.
  • Medications- corticosteroids creams and hydroxychloroquine a drug to treat malaria may ease some symptoms of sun allergy.
  • Therapy in cases of severe sun allergy getting the skin gradually used to sunlight is suggested. In phototherapy areas of the body which are often exposed to sun are subjected to UV light for several weeks

6 Prevention

The person who is suffering from sun allergy or an increased sensitivity to the sun must follow these steps to prevent sun allergy:

  • Limit exposure time to sun – try to stay out of harmful rays of sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is brightest.
  • Wear protective clothing and sun glass- many people suffering from sun allergy must wear long sleeved shirts and pants to cover the exposed areas of body. Clothes which are designed specifically to block UV rays are to be preferred.
  • Sunscreen- apply sunscreen frequently with an SPF of at least 15. American Association of Dermatology recommends usage of broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with minimum SPF of 30.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Alternative remedies for sun allergies include the following:

  • avoiding of exposure to sun,
  • stop using medications that make skin sensitive to sunlight,
  • application of skin moisturizers,
  • use soothing skin supplements such as calamine lotion and aloe Vera.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Some of the lifestyle measures taken to improve the healing process of sun allergies include:

  • applying topical creams on time,
  • avoiding alcohol and drug abuse,
  • avoiding over the counter medications which can evoke allergic response to sunlight,
  • eating proper food,
  • consulting doctor,
  • taking preventive measures to stop further allergic response.

9 Risks and Complications

Risk factors of developing an allergy towards sun include:

  • Race- anyone can have sun allergy, but certain people with some racial background for example: most common type of sun allergy occurs mostly in Caucasians, a less common sun allergy, but more severe variety, is most commonly seen in native Americans.
  • Exposure to certain substances- some skin allergy symptoms are triggered when skin is exposed to certain substances like makeup material and then to sunlight.
  • Medications- tetracycline’s, sulfa-based drugs and pain relievers make skin vulnerable to sun allergy.
  • Having other skin conditions- people infected with dermatitis or any other skin disease are predisposed to sun allergy.
  • Family history- one might develop sun allergy if some of their family members already have this condition.

Sun allergy fades on its own in mild cases and no severe complications are noted in sun allergy.

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