What to put on sun allergy rash

What to put on sun allergy rash

Polymorphous light eruption is most common in young adult women who live in temperate climates, such as North America and Europe, but also affects men and can affect children. PLE onset does seem to happen at an older age in men than in women. PLE occurs most often during the spring and summer. It affects every ethnicities and skin types, and is prevalent in approximately 10-20% of lighter-skinned populations; it may be even more common in individuals with darker skin. And the prevalence goes up when lumping photodermatoses together—including, for example, solar urticaria, photoallergic dermatitis, hydroa vacciniforme, chronic actinic dermatitis, erythropoietic porphyria, and lupus erythematosus.

There is a genetic tendency for PLE to happen.

What to put on sun allergy rash

Patients can also experience PLE during phototherapy treatments for other skin conditions love psoriasis and dermatitis.


Scientists are not entirely certain why people experience reactions to the sun but believe that genetics frolic a key role in some cases. As with every allergies, photodermatoses is caused when an otherwise harmless allergen—in this case, sunlight—triggers an abnormal immune response.

There are over 20 diverse types of photodermatoses. Some are common and others are rare. These include sun-induced skin reactions in people with known autoimmune disorders such as lupus) and chronic skin conditions that worsen when exposed to light.

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Cholinergic Urticaria

Cholinergic urticaria, more commonly known as heat rash, is a form of hives caused by an increase in body temperature.

This not only includes exposure to sunlight but anything that can lift the body temperature as a whole, including boiling showers, exercise, spicy foods, or being overheated at night.

The best treatment for cholinergic urticaria is antihistamines. While any antihistamine is likely to assist, older ones, such as hydroxyzine, seem to work best. Beta-blockers own also been recommended.

Solar Urticaria

Solar urticaria is a rare, chronic form of sun-induced photodermatoses. People with this condition will experience itching, redness, and hives on the areas of skin exposed to sunlight. While symptoms are sometimes confused with a sunburn, solar urticaria can develop within minutes and goes away much quicker (usually less than a day) after the sun exposure has stopped.

If anaphylaxis is suspected, emergency medical attention should be sought.

If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to respiratory failure, seizures, shock, coma, and even death. Avoidance of the sun is the best means of protection.

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Polymorphous Light Eruption

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) is the most common type of photodermatoses. It is called polymorphous because the appearance of the skin reaction can vary from person to person.

PMLE skin lesions typically develop several hours to days after sun exposure.

They will appear as raised, reddened patches accompanied by itching and sometimes burning.

They will often become papular in nature (characterized by raised bumps with no visible fluid). The rash will develop most commonly on the upper chest, upper arms, backs of the hands, thighs, and the sides of the face.

The lesions generally vanish spontaneously within several days and do not leave behind any traces.

What to put on sun allergy rash

Oral antihistamines can assist relieve itching but do little to improve the actual rash. In most cases, time alone will resolve the condition. PMLE is not considering life-threatening.

Sunscreen Allergy

While contact dermatitis to sunscreen is not as common as an allergy to cosmetics, it is actually not every that unusual. Known as photoallergic contact dermatitis, the condition is characterized by a reaction to a topical agent (such as sunscreen, insect repellent, lotions, or fragrances) only when it is exposed to UV light.

The skin reaction can happen on any part of the body where the substance is applied but is generally more pronounced on areas of sun-exposed areas.

These include the face, the “V” area of the upper chest and lower neck, the backs of the hands, and the forearms.

Photoallergic contact dermatitis is considered a phototoxic even in that the reaction would not happen if the sunscreen was not used. Avoidance of the product is the best course of treatment for this condition.


This is not to tell that every skin reactions to the sun are true allergies. While some people do, in fact, own hypersensitivity to sunlight, other "sun allergies" are caused by medications or topical substance that cause a reaction on the skin when exposed to sunlight.

Symptoms of photodermatoses vary by type.

For example, individuals with actinic prurigo, an inherited form of sun allergy, develop itchy crusty bumps, while those with photo allergic reaction, which occurs when a chemical applied to the skin interacts with UV light, presents with a burning, itchy rash and fluid filled blisters.


The name polymorphic eruption means a rash that has numerous diverse forms.

What to put on sun allergy rash

The rash generally appears on the parts of the skin exposed to sunlight—the head and neck, chest, and arms—but which might not be exposed year-round. The face isn’t necessarily affected.

An itchy or burning rash may appear anywhere from hours (or even minutes) up to two to three days after sun exposure.

What to put on sun allergy rash

The sun rash may consist of erythematous papules, papulovesicles, plaques and/or lesions similar to eczema or erythema multiforme, and may be confused with hives. It can glance love thick clusters of little red bumps and raised rough patches. Some lesions may own fluid-filled blisters. An eruption may final up to two weeks but heal without scarring if sunlight is avoided. However, if the skin is exposed to additional sunlight before the rash has healed, the condition generally gets much worse.

Symptoms may only happen rarely, or may happen every time an individual’s skin is exposed to sunlight.

But for most people with sun sensitivity, the rash develops after several hours exterior on a sunny day. The light eruption can range from extremely mild to severe.


Most cases of sun allergy resolve on their own with time. Skin balms such as calamine lotion and aloe vera can assist alleviate discomfort, particularly if scaling or crusting happen. Pain can often be treated with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug love Advil (ibuprofen). More severe cases may require systemic or topical steroids to assist bring below the swelling.

Whatever the cause, people with a known sun allergy should make every effort cover up or stay indoors whenever the sun is at its strongest.

Sunscreen rarely provides protection from photodermatoses and, in some cases, can make it worse.

When to Call 911

Seek emergency care if some or every of the following happen after sun exposure:

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. High fever
  3. Confusion
  4. Fast or irregular heartbeat
  5. Wheezing
  6. Severe rash or hives
  7. Shortness of breath
  8. Swelling of the face, throat or tongue

First Aid for Excessive Sun Exposure

Solar urticaria is rare but can be life-threatening in some cases. People own been known to experience a deadly, all-body allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, in response to sun exposure.

Cholinergic urticaria is differentiated from PMLE and solar urticaria in that the reaction is not triggered UV rays but by temperature.

What to put on sun allergy rash

Even strong emotions can trigger cholinergic urticaria in that they lift body temperature ever so slightly.

Polymorphous Light Eruption

Polymorphous light eruption, or PLE, is the most common skin disease caused by sunlight. It is also called polymorphic light eruption (PMLE). Other variants include juvenile spring eruption and benign summer light eruption. PLE is not the same as sunburn, but may appear as something love a sunburn rash. PLE arises spontaneously in people who are sensitive to ultraviolet light and is characterized as one type of photodermatosis. It generally manifests as an itchy rash—little red bumps or slightly raised patches of skin—after sun exposure in people who are photosensitive.

While the rash can take diverse forms in diverse people, it generally appears the same in each individual. PLE is more likely to appear when the skin isn’t used to sunshine, such as in spring or on a sunny holiday. While the sun rash can go away on its own, it tends to reappear after the first incident. PLE is not harmful or infectious, but may be unsightly and embarrassing.


For people who own shown symptoms of polymorphous light eruption previously, 30 minutes or less of sun exposure may be enough to cause a reaction. It can be triggered by visible sunlight and both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, tanning beds, and even exposure to fluorescent lighting.

Because UVA rays provoke PLE, symptoms may even appear after sun exposure through a glass window or thin clothing.

What to put on sun allergy rash

This also means that standard sunscreen lotions (that don’t protect extremely well against UVA rays) may not prevent a reaction in people who are photosensitive.

The mechanism of PLE is not well understood. It is thought to be caused by a type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction by the immune system to an allergen produced by the body—in this case, in response to the damage from sun exposure, resulting in skin inflammation. In this instance, ultraviolet radiation leads to impaired T-cell function and an altered production of cytokines, reducing normal UV-induced immune suppression in the skin.

PLE tends to run in families and often people who are affected will own relatives who are also affected.

But sensitivity to sunlight can lessen with repeated exposure. After longer periods without exposure to sunlight, symptoms may appear with exposure. But they may be less likely to appear with repeated exposure to smaller amounts of sunlight.

What to put on sun allergy rash

Gradually, some people may become less sensitive over several years or eventually even no longer experience recurring symptoms.

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Less commonly, secondary symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, fever, skin sensitivity, body and muscle aches, dizziness/disorientation, exhaustion, and vision impairment. These symptoms may be the result of any associated sunburn rather than the PLE itself.

You should see a doctor if you own a rash without an obvious cause, as a number of conditions—including serious diseases—can cause skin rashes with similar appearances to PLE.

You should also seek medical care if your rash is widespread, painful, and/or accompanied by a fever. If there is doubt, it’s significant to get a immediate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.