Can You Be Allergic to the Sun?
Allergies come in many different forms.
There are shellfish allergies, peanut allergies, allergies to pollen and pet dander…and even sun allergy. This one might strike most people as somewhat hard to believe—after all, only vampires exhibit sun allergy symptoms, right?
Well, it turns out that sun allergy is a real thing. It’s even estimated that somewhere between 10% and 20% of people in the US have experienced polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), the most common form of sun allergy.
So let’s take a look at what causes sun allergy, as well as what form of sun allergy treatment there are.
Sun Allergy Symptoms
Sun allergy is more correctly referred to as “photodermatosis,” but it’s also the case that not all sun-related allergies are the result of sunlight hypersensitivity.
So, for instance, there are variants of skin reactions that masquerade as sun allergies. These include photoallergic reactions, which result from a chemical in a medicament or topical substance that reacts to the sun’s UV light.
Broadly, however, a sun allergy rash or even sun allergy hives can crop up in those suffering from photodermatosis. These hives usually manifest as itchy red bumps or raised swellings.
There are several different types of sun allergy, which we can examine below:
This is a rare but chronic form of photodermatosis.
Solar urticaria is often confused with a typical sunburn, but its manifestation is somewhat different. Whereas a sunburn presents slowly and can last for days, solar urticaria develops shortly after sun exposure and disappears in less than a day.
The symptoms of solar urticaria consist of hives, itchiness, and redness of the skin. Have a look here to see why limiting sun exposure is best for those suffering from solar urticaria and other skin diseases.
Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE)
This condition is the most common form of sun allergy.
Although it sounds painful, it’s really not as bad as all that. PMLE skin lesions tend to develop within several hours to several days of exposure to the sun. Nevertheless, the form of the skin reaction in a polymorphous light eruption can vary from person to person.
The lesions in this case are small and itchy, but they’re more annoying than anything else. PMLE is not life-threatening, and there’s little help for it save to take oral antihistamines to relieve the itching.
PMLE will resolve itself after a short time.
This allergy represents an outbreak of hives that are caused by a rise in body temperature.
That means anything that raises the body’s temperature—including exposure to the sun, but also exercise, hot showers, or even spicy foods—can trigger this allergy. So this one’s not so much a photodermatosis per se, but it’s a type of allergy that can be caused by sun exposure if one’s not too careful.
Know the Symptoms and Causes of Sun Allergy
The long and the short of it is: yes, sun allergy is real. What causes sun allergy is debatable. However, as with all allergies, it involves an unusual immune response to otherwise fairly innocuous sunlight.
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