Sun Allergy Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Allergy to the sun is an unpleasant problem that brings a lot of discomforts but is not life-threatening. This will help you notice the problem in time and consult a doctor to get the right treatment.

Causes of sun allergies

Causes of sun allergies

Sun allergy or photosensitivity can be either an independent disease or caused by photosensitizers – substances that cause abnormal skin reactions to sunlight. With this disease, the skin reacts to a certain spectrum of light, most often ultraviolet.

No one is immune from the appearance of an allergy to the sun. Children, women, and men of any age and race can experience photosensitivity at any point in their lives. The most susceptible to such trouble is people with pale skin and red hair – phototype 1.

In adults and children, the reaction to the sun’s rays can be primary, when the reasons for its appearance are not clear, and exogenous. In the second case, the allergy is caused by an external factor:

  • Taking medications;
  • Contact with phototoxic substances;
  • The use of ointments and creams, which contain drugs that cause photosensitivity.

Do not be afraid of such a disease. It is not life-threatening but can cause significant discomfort.

Diagnosis of Sun Allergy

Diagnosing a sun allergy is a tricky story, even for an experienced dermatologist. With different sources of the problem, the disease manifests itself with similar skin reactions, which makes it difficult to determine the cause. To summarize, photodermatitis and photodermatosis are distinguished.

Photodermatosis is a skin reaction caused by photosensitivity. This type is the most common and can be caused by a variety of factors. In general, we can distinguish:

  • Solar urticaria:
  • Actinic dermatitis;
  • Phototoxic reaction;
  • Systemic photoallergy.

The above list is just a small part. Photodermatoses can also be secondary, that is, caused by the underlying disease. In general, without a doctor, there is no way to figure it out.

Diagnosis of Sun Allergy

Features of photodermatitis

With photodermatitis, everything is a little easier. This is a skin rash similar to eczema. A common cause of such a reaction may be skin contact with a chemical and subsequent exposure to ultraviolet light. It can be:

  • Sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone and cinnamates.
  • Coal tar products.
  • Aromatic substances: musk, essential oils.
  • Insect repellents and disinfectants.

Another significant cause of photodermatitis is contact with plants, most often the umbrella family.

Sun Allergy Treatment

How do you know if you or your child is allergic to the sun? First of all, these are redness, itching, and any rashes that appear on the skin after contact with sunlight.

In the case of photodermatosis, the reaction may appear on the legs, neck, decollete, shoulders, and any other areas of the body exposed to the sun. Photodermatitis is more localized. For example, a rash appears on the hands after using mosquito repellent cream. Or on the face after applying sunscreen.

Treatment of photodermatosis and photodermatitis is an integrated approach that largely depends on the patient himself.  The doctor will help to cope with the existing problem. And below you can learn how to reduce the risk of a sun rash and how to help your skin at home while you wait for a visit to the doctor.

Sun Allergy Treatment

Sun protection is the first line of defense

The main factor in avoiding sun allergies is sun protection. It sounds logical, but many people neglect it.

  • The main rule is to close the body as much as possible. Hats, panamas, light trousers, and long-sleeved shirts will help reduce the effects of the sun on your skin.
  • Pay attention to the ultraviolet index. It is indicated in the Weather application, which is on any smartphone. The UV index is usually higher during the afternoon.
  • Snow, concrete, glass, and water reflect ultraviolet. Take this into account before leaving the house.
  • Don’t rely on shadows. Dust particles scatter the sun’s rays, so the shade is only a partial protection.
  • Fluorescent lamps are also a source of ultraviolet light. Most often they are used in public places and offices.
  • Cream with SPF 50+ – the optimal level of protection. In some sources, you can find recommendations to use products with SPF 30+. For the city, this advice is relevant.
  • Sun protection products with physical filters. As discussed above, some solar filters can cause photosensitivity. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to cosmetics with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which reflect sunlight without accompanying chemical reactions.

Quick help for sun allergies

What to do if you come from a day walk, and the skin burns and rashes appear? You definitely shouldn’t self-Medica

te and test folk remedies on yourself. The consequences for the skin can be sad.

The first thing you can definitely do is take a cool shower. This will help reduce body temperature and improve skin heat transfer. Use mild body washes. If all shower gels with a strong smell are at home, a baby bath gel, an intimate hygiene product, or a soothing facial wash can be a substitute. The fewer flavors, the better. Don’t rub your skin with a towel. You can let it dry or lightly blot it with a cloth.

Applying panthenol or aloe vera gel is a good way to reduce redness a bit. But they are not the main treatment and will only bring temporary relief.

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We emphasize that during pregnancy you should not experiment with the treatment of allergies to the sun and it is better to immediately make an appointment with a doctor.

Reliable Sources of Information About Sun Allergies

You can learn more about photodermatosis on the popular scientific resource PubMed. Understandable for a wide range of readers, the problem is described on DermNet NZ, an authoritative skin portal. Material about photosensitivity can be found at this link, and about photodermatitis – at this one.

The reaction of the skin to the sun depends on the phototype. For details, see Fitzpatrick Phototypes.


1. Can sun allergy be cured completely?

Sun allergy cannot be cured completely, but the symptoms can be managed with appropriate treatment and preventive measures.

2. Is sun allergy contagious?

No, sun allergy is not contagious. It is caused due to an abnormal immune system response to the sun’s UV radiation.

3. How can I prevent sun allergy?

You can prevent sun allergy by avoiding direct exposure to the sun during peak hours, wearing protective clothing and hats, using sunscreen with a high SPF, and staying hydrated.

4. Can sun allergy cause skin cancer?

Sun allergy does not directly cause skin cancer, but it can increase the risk of developing skin cancer due to repeated exposure to UV radiation.

5. Can sun allergy occur in winter?

Yes, sun allergy can occur in winter as well, especially in areas with high altitudes where the sun’s UV radiation is stronger.

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