What Is A Sun Allergy?

A sun allergy can be used to describe a number of conditions in which an itchy red rash appears on skin that has been exposed to sunlight.

The allergy that’s most common is polymorphic light eruption – better known as sun poisoning.

While milder cases of sun allergy may clear up without treatment, more severe cases, including sun poisoning, can usually be treated successfully with steroid creams or other medication that our team may recommend or prescribe.

What can you do to help prevent a sun allergy or sun sensitivity?

  • Avoid the sun during peak hours – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
  • Wear sunglasses and protective clothing
  • Avoid sudden exposure – gradually increase the amount of time you spend outdoors
  • Avoid known triggers

Signs and Symptoms of Sun Allergy

Skin affected by a sun allergy’s appearance can vary widely depending on what is causing the problem, with the symptoms usually occurring on skin that has been exposed to the sun and usually developing within minutes to hours after your sun exposure.

Typical symptoms may include:

  • Blisters or hives
  • Itching or pain
  • Redness and tenderness of the skin
  • Tiny bumps that may merge into raised patches
  • Itching or pain

Please see our team if you have severe or persistent symptoms.

Causes of Sun Allergy

Certain medications, chemicals and medical conditions can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. While it is not clear why some people get a sun allergy and others do not some research points to certain inherited traits playing a role.

Risk factors for developing an allergic reaction to sunlight include:

  • Your race.
  • Taking certain medications. A number of medications can make the skin sunburn more quickly.
  • Exposure to certain substances. Some skin allergy symptoms are triggered when your skin is exposed to a substance and then to sunlight.
  • Having another skin condition – like dermatitis.
  • Having family with a sun allergy.

Sun Allergy Treatments

Treatment depends on the type of sun allergy you have. For mild cases, simply avoiding the sun for a few days will usually be sufficient in resolving your symptoms. In treating more severe or persistent sun allergy cases, our team may recommend over-the-counter creams containing corticosteroids or prescribe even stronger medication if necessary.