Sunlight is very essential for human existence but in some cases sunlight can cause skin damage. Sun allergy is basically caused due to excess exposure to sunlight. Sunburn, tan skin, redness of skin is the causes of sun allergy symptoms. In some extreme cases too much of sunlight can cause skin cancer.
If a person is allergic to sun then the immune system reacts to sunlight which may lead to itchy and red skin. The immune system recognizes some components of the sun-altered skin as “foreign,” and the body activates its immune defenses against them. This produces an allergic reaction that takes the form of a rash, redness, itchy skin. Usually the area of skin which is exposed to sun will be affected with sun allergy and this may include neck, arms, foot.
The sun produces invisible rays called ultraviolet-A (UVA) or ultraviolet-B (UVB) that can damage the skin. Too much sun can cause sunburn, skin texture changes, and skin cancers. Even on cloudy days, UV radiation can cause skin damage.
Sun Allergy Symptoms
People with over exposure to sun may experience the following symptoms either immediately or within few hours of sun exposure. The symptoms may vary from person to person.
- Polymorphous light eruption(PMLE): PMLE causes an itchy or burning skin rash within two hours of sun exposure. The rash usually appears on sun-exposed portions of the neck, upper chest, arms and lower legs. In addition, there may be one to two hours of chills, headache, nausea .In rare cases; PMLE may erupt as red plaques (flat, raised areas), small fluid-filled blisters or tiny areas of bleeding under the skin. If you avoid further sun exposure the rashes may disappear within two or three days.
- Photo allergic eruption: in this case the skin covered with clothing may also gets affected. It causes itchy red skin and tiny blisters. This does not occur immediately after sun expose but the symptoms can be seen after two three days. The duration is unpredictable. However, in most cases, skin symptoms disappear after the offending chemical is identified and no longer used.
- Actinic prurigo: in this case usually the face is affected particularly around the lips and the symptoms are same as of PMLE. In temperate climates, actinic prurigo follows a seasonal pattern that is similar to classic PMLE. However, in tropical climates, symptoms may persist all year round.
- Solar urticaria: in this case hives occur immediately after exposure to sunlight. Individual hives typically fade within 30 minutes to two hours. However, they usually come back when skin is exposed to sun again.
If the rash, redness or any form of skin problems persists do consult your doctor.
How to Avoid Sun Allergy?
The best way to avoid sun allergy is to avoid going in sun, however you can try the following tips in order to be save from such allergy.
- Always use a sunscreen lotion before going outside. Make sure it has SPF 15 or more. This will protect you from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays.
- Avoid going outside when sun is at its peak. Preferably go out after 4 pm.
- Always carry your sun glasses while going in sun.
- Avoid wearing short clothes as it may damage your skin which is exposed to sun. Wear loose clothes which cover your full hands and legs.
- Use a sun block on your lips. Choose a product that has been formulated especially for the lips, with an SPF of 20 or more.
- Be aware of skin care products and medicines that may trigger a photo allergic eruption. These include certain antibiotics and oral birth control pills, as well as prescription medicines that are used to treat psychiatric illness, high blood pressure and heart failure. If you are taking a prescription medication, and you normally spend a great deal of time outdoors, ask your doctor whether you should take any special precautions to avoid sun exposure while you are on the drug.
Consult doctor immediately if you experience severe sun allergy symptoms.