Sun Allergy: Symptoms, Treatment and How to protect yourself

Sun allergy is an exaggerated reaction of the immune system to sunlight, causing an inflammatory reaction in the regions most exposed to the sun such as arms, hands, neckline and face area, causing symptoms such as redness, itching and white or reddish balls in the skin. 

In more severe and rare cases, this reaction can even arise on skin covered by clothing.

Although the cause of this allergy is still unknown, it is possible that it occurs because the body recognizes the changes caused by the sun on the skin as something “strange”, causing an inflammatory reaction.

This allergy arises when there is exposure to sunlight and can be prevented or mitigated through the use of sunscreen to protect the skin. 

The treatment of this type of allergy is generally done with the use of antihistamine medications that must be indicated by the dermatologist.

Main Symptoms

Sun allergy symptoms can vary from person to person, because they depend on the sensitivity of their immune system, however the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Redness of the skin;
  • Red spots on the skin;
  • Blisters or red spots on the skin;
  • Itching in a region of the skin;
  • Irritation and sensitivity in areas exposed to the sun;
  • Burning sensation on the skin.

In some cases there may be blisters with clear liquid inside them and these allergy symptoms are more common in people with fair skin or in those who are being treated with medications that cause sensitivity to sunlight.

These symptoms can arise within a few minutes after being exposed to the sun, however, this will depend on the sensitivity of each person.

Learn more: How To Tell If I Have Allergies Or A Cold

How to Confirm the Diagnosis?

The diagnosis of sun allergy must be made by a dermatologist through the evaluation of the signs, symptoms and personal history of the individual. 

However, the doctor may request other more specific tests, such as a blood test or a skin biopsy, where a small piece of skin is removed and evaluated in the laboratory.

Many times the doctor can suspect other diseases, such as lupus, before confirming the allergy to the sun, which is why the diagnosis may take a while.


Who is most at Risk?

Although allergy to the sun can arise in anyone, however, there is an increased risk when the individual:

  • He has very clear and sensitive skin;
  • Use chemicals on the skin, such as perfumes or repellents;
  • Treats with medications that cause sensitivity to the sun, such as Dipyrone or Tetracycline;
  • You have other skin conditions, such as dermatitis or psoriasis;

Likewise, people who have a family history of sun allergy are also more likely to develop skin changes after exposure to the sun.

What to do in Case of Allergy to the Sun

In case of allergic reaction to the sun, it is recommended to apply cold water to the area and keep it protected from the sun to reduce inflammation. 

However, in more serious cases, when there is intense itching and the manifestation of red plaques throughout the body, you should immediately go to a hospital and consult a dermatologist to evaluate and start the most appropriate treatment, which may include use of antihistamines or corticosteroids, for example.

How the Treatment is Performed

Sun allergy treatment should be started by applying some techniques that avoid prolonged contact with the sun, such as using sunscreen or wearing clothing that covers most of the skin, for example.

However, if symptoms still continue to appear, the dermatologist may also prescribe antihistamine medications such as Loratadine or Allegra, or corticosteroids such as Betamethasone to relieve allergy symptoms during a crisis, or to be used frequently depending on the case.

In addition, when there is a lot of itching and redness on the skin, the application of antihistamine ointments or creams may also be indicated, which help to quickly relieve symptoms.

How to protect the skin when there is an allergy to the Sun

Sun allergy is a problem that has no cure, however there are some tips that can help protect the skin and relieve symptoms such as:

  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure and go to places with plenty of shade, trying to stay as long as possible out of the reach of the sun;
  • Apply sunscreen to the skin with a protection factor of at least 30 SP, before leaving the house;
  • Use a moisturising lipstick with a protection factor of 30 or higher;
  • Avoid sun exposure in the hottest hours,between 10 am and 4 pm, since in this period the sun’s rays are more intense;
  • Wear clothing that protects against sunlight,preferring to wear shirts with sleeves and pants. In the summer, this type of clothing should be made of natural, light fabric and light colors.
  • Wear caps or hats, as well as sunglasses, to protect the head and eyes from sunlight.

Also, when allergy symptoms arise, taking a cold water bath to relieve itching and redness is also a good option, as well as applying a little aloe moisturiser helps soothe the skin.

Possible Causes of Allergy to the Sun

In many cases, sun allergy occurs due to a person’s genetic predisposition to overreact to UV contact with the skin. 

However, there are also other cases in which the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics, antifungals or antihistamines, as well as direct contact with cosmetic preservatives, can increase sensitivity to the sun’s rays, favoring allergic reactions.


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