Sunlight is essential for human health and wellbeing. It helps produce Vitamin D in the skin. But Ultraviolet rays in sunlight are also cause of skin allergy, rashes and even skin cancer in some cases.
What Is a Sun Allergy (or sun rash)?
A sun allergy commonly manifests as red itchy rash on sun exposed parts of body.
It can occur due to body’s immune reaction to sunlight or as an interaction of sunlight with cosmetics and perfumes on skin surface.
Mostly sun allergy rashes are mild and limited to sun exposed parts of skin but more severe reactions can affect covered body areas too.
How Sun Allergy manifests?
It can present as
- Itching without rash
- Red itchy rash
- Tiny skin coloured bumps
- Watery blisters
These symptoms can appear a few minutes to several hours after sun exposure.
What are the Causes of a Sun Allergy?
The basic cause of a sun allergy is, of course, exposure to sunlight.
Factors which may increase the likelihood of developing a sun allergy are
- Certain medications: Sulfa group of drugs, few diabetes and Hypertension medicines and certain antibiotics are associated with a risk of sun allergy.
- Pre-existing skin conditions: Lupus, porphyria, some genetic skin disorders
- Family history of a sun allergy: A family member with a similar allergy increases the possibility of a shared genetic tendency toward this condition.
How Do I Avoid Sun Allergy?
There are steps you can take to reduce the effects of a sun allergy:
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight, especially during peak hours (11AM to 3PM)
- Apply Broad Spectrum Sunscreen liberally before stepping out of house.
- Allergic response is triggered by Ultraviolet rays which can penetrate glass and hence sun protection practises should be followed even if you are indoors.
- Cover up bare areas with protective clothing, use wide brimmed hat and wear sunglasses.
- Avoid substances and medicines that you know will trigger an allergic response.
What should I do if I have Sun Allergy?
Strict sunlight avoidance is advised if you have developed sun allergy. Soothing pure calamine lotion can be applied if red rash is there. Cold compresses can be applied to reduce itching and burning sensation. Visit a dermatologist if rash is not resolving with simple measures or is widespread or recurrent.