How To Detect And Manage Sun Allergies?

  • 8 months ago
4 minute read.
How To Detect And Manage Sun Allergies?

Soaking up the sunlight in winter is one of the best feelings! Isn't it? But not everyone can benefit from this.

Some people develop a rash or blister when they step out in the sun. Is it sun sensitivity? Can someone be allergic to the sun?

Sun sensitivity/allergies, also known as photodermatitis, are allergic reactions to the sun. These reactions can range from mild to severe and affect people of all ages.

Common Symptoms of Sun Allergy

Symptoms of a sun allergy may include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Blistering on the skin
  • Dry, scaly, or flaky skin

In some cases, a sun allergy may also cause:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Types of Sun Allergies

There are several types of sun allergies, including:

  1. Polymorphous light eruption (PLE): PLE is the most common type of sun allergy. It often develops as a rash on the neck, chest, and arms. It is caused by extended exposure to the sun, which occurs, especially during the winter.
  2. Solar urticaria: This sun allergy causes hives (red, itchy bumps) on the skin. It gets triggered by UV radiation and may occur within minutes of sun exposure.
  3. Drug-induced photosensitivity: Some medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and some antidepressants, can increase sensitivity to the sun.
  4. Actinic prurigo: This rare form of sun allergy appears as small, itchy bumps on sun-exposed areas of the skin. It is more common in people with a medical history of eczema or atopic dermatitis.

If you think you may have a sun allergy, it is critical to see a dermatologist or allergist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Tests for Sun Sensitivity

Several tests can be used to determine if a person is sensitive to the sun:

  1. Patch test: This test involves applying a small amount of a substance, such as a chemical or an allergen, to a patch. The next step is to put this patch on the skin. After a certain amount of time, the patch is removed, and the skin is examined for reactions.
  2. Photopatch test: This test is similar to a patch test, but the patch is exposed to UV light and then put on the skin. It can help to determine if the substance causes a reaction when exposed to the sun.
  3. Phototest: This test involves exposing a small area of the skin to UV light and observing the skin for any reaction.
  4. Photoprovocation test: This test involves exposing a small area of the skin to UV light and then applying a substance, such as a chemical or an allergen, to the skin. The skin is then observed for any reaction.

Please note: These tests should only be performed by a trained specialist.

Take Steps to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Protecting yourself from the sun can include:

  • Wearing protective clothing like scarfs and full-sleeved clothes
  • Using broad-spectrum sunscreens with a high SPF
  • Seeking shade when the sun is the strongest.
  • Taking prescribed medicines on time

How Do I Choose a Good Sunscreen?

To choose a good sunscreen, consider the following factors:

  1. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to provide sufficient protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.
  2. Look for a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  3. If you will be sweating (Indulging in an outdoor activity) or swimming, look for a water-resistant sunscreen to ensure that it stays on your skin.
  4. If you have sensitive skin, look for a sunscreen formulated for sensitive skin and is free of potentially irritating ingredients.
  5. Avoid sunscreens that contain chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.
  6. Opt. for sunscreen in a lotion or cream form, as these are easier to apply and less likely to run into your eyes.

Discuss your options with a dermatologist before using one. An expert can help you determine your skin type & prevent further skin damage.

How Do I Get Vitamin D, If Not from the Sun?

There are several ways to get vitamin D other than through sun exposure:

  1. Diet: Some foods, such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines), beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks, contain vitamin D. However, you cannot get enough vitamin D from diet alone.
  2. Supplements: Vitamin D supplements come in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms as well. They can be taken orally or even injected by a healthcare provider.
  3. Fortified foods: Some foods, such as milk, orange juice, and cereals, are fortified with vitamin D. This means that vitamin D has been added to the food during the manufacturing process.

Also Check: Do you need more vitamin D in winter? Expert reveals!

Please speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new vitamin regimen. They can help determine the appropriate dosage and frequency of vitamin D intake based on an individual's needs.


Q1. What is the most common cause of a sun allergy?

A reaction to chemicals in sunscreens or other skin care products is the most common cause of sun allergy.

Q2. Which parts of the body are most typically affected by sun allergies?

The most common areas for sun allergies to appear are the face, neck, chest, and back, although they can also appear on the arms, legs, and other areas that are exposed to the sun.

Q3. Can sun allergies lead to cancer?

Sun allergies are not the same as skin cancer and do not directly cause cancer. However, people with sun allergies may be more prone to sunburn, which can increase the risk of skin cancer.

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