Sun allergies are a common form of allergy though they often go unrecognised as people often don’t think to include the sun in a list of possible allergens or they mistake their reaction for a normal one related to sun burn or dry skin. It is not fully understood what causes sun allergies, though it is believed that the allergy might in fact be to the sun-altered skin rather than to the sun itself with the body simply confusing the skin for toxins.
Keeping an eye out for the symptoms of a sun allergy then is important if you are going to identify it when it does occur. Unfortunately making life more difficult is the fact that there are in fact three different types of sun allergies and the treatment for your condition will depend on the type you have. Here we will look at the four different types, their symptoms and their treatments.
This type of sun allergy is believed to be the only ‘true’ type of sun allergy. This form will show symptoms minutes into exposure to sunlight and these symptoms will consist of individual hives on affected areas of the skin which fade after a few hours out of the sun. These symptoms range in severity and in some cases difficulty breathing and potentially anaphylactic shock are also possible. The treatments will be based on the severity and will range from oral antihistamines to antimalarial drugs or beta-carotene tablets. Ultra violet light can also be helpful.
This allergy occurs when the sun reacts with the chemical components in substances applied to the skin such as sunscreen, perfumes, cosmetics or medications. This then produces small red rashes and fluid-filled blisters. These symptoms will tend to show themselves after 2-3 days making it hard to identify the cause. Corticosteroid creams can treat the immediate symptoms while in the long term the best solution is of course to eliminate the substances causing the allergies.
Polymorphorous Light Eruption
Also known as PLM, this form of sun allergy causes an itching and burning rash which looks like small red plaques or blisters. These tend to emerge a few hours after sun exposure, possibly along with chills, shivers, headaches and nausea. These will tend to disappear after a few days, but you can speed up the process by applying a cold compress or spraying cool water onto the skin. More severe allergies can be treated with oral antihistamines, anti malarial drugs, anti-rash skins, diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine. Skin creams using cortisone can also be useful. In extreme cases doctors can prescribe photo therapy treatment in which the individual will be exposed to gradually increasing ultraviolet rays to build up resistance to the sun.
Anctinic prurigo is a very similar form of inherited sun allergy and is inherited. It occurs early in an individual’s life and tends to occur throughout spring and summer mainly on the face. This form of sun allergy uses the same treatments as PLM.
Tips: Regardless of the specific type of sun allergy there are some simple remedies that can help you to cope with the problem. For instance vitamin E which is very good for the skin can be a great help when taken in tablet form, as can Aloe Vera, or quercitin. You should also make sure to use sun block and to protect yourself from the sun with hats and other protective clothing.